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Aircraft Review : BN-2A Islander XP12 by Thranda Design

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Aircraft Review : BN-2A Islander XP12 by Thranda Design


Britten-Norman was formed in 1953 for the purpose of converting and operating agricultural aircraft on the Isle of Wright in the Southern United Kingdom. John Britten and Desmond Norman or the BN of the title, had observed the rapid growth of the commuter airline sector, and concluded that capacity was of a higher value to these operators than either range or cruising speed. On 13 June 1965, the first prototype BN-2 Islander conducted its maiden flight. It was powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce/Continental IO-360B piston engines; only four days later, the prototype aircraft appeared at the Paris Air Show. The IO-360B engines were later replaced by more powerful Lycoming O-540-E engines, which were located further outboard on the wings, for superior single-engine climb performance.


The Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander is a high-wing cantilever monoplane with a rectangular fuselage and two wing-mounted engines; early aircraft were equipped with a pair of piston engines while later production models may be alternatively fitted with turboprop engines in their place. The rectangular cross section fuselage, which is furnished with a conventional tail unit and fixed tricycle landing gear, can accommodate a single pilot and up to nine passengers in a commuter configuration, or operate in a mixed cargo/passenger capacity.


The X-Plane Simulator is no stranger to the talents of one of it's premier developers, Daniel Klaue. Klaue has been at the forefront of X-Plane aircraft development now for over a decade, first with his own designs, then as custodian involved with Carenado, that the partnership produced over 50 aircraft for X-Plane version 10/11. Then Daniel formed his own development house...   Thranda Design, and has since produced some of the most significant aircraft in the X-Plane Simulator. First with Utility and bush aircraft then with three Cessnas in the 208 Grand Caravan, U206G Stationair, and finally the 337 Skymaster earlier this year. This is Thranda Design's latest release in the BN-2A Islander for X-Plane 12, and to note there will be no X-Plane 11 version of the aircraft. Being a Thranda design, features and quality abound including the Dynamic Generation Series or DGS, feature this is a Thranda speciality that takes full advantage of X-Plane's flexibility for in-sim, real-time modifications.


BN-2A Islander XP12

First let us clear something up. The BN-2A comes for the first time with 8K textures, a huge pixel area 7680 x 4320. Just because it is 8K doesn't mean that you need a 8Gb Graphic Card to run them. 4 Gb VRAM is still recommended as Minimum. And 8 Gb+ VRAM is however recommended as normal. But like with the earlier Thranda releases, they had more than one 4K texture size, sometimes two 4K textures to fill in the same 8K area. So in reality you are only using the 8K to fill the same gap of the two 4K set of textures before. So Graphic Card size is not the issue, if you can run your current Thranda aircraft with your current graphic card size, then the BN-2A will be exactly the same, in fact even a bit more efficient in that it only has to load in the one texture sheet, rather than the old 2(K)or 4(K) texture sheets.


The Islander is a utility aircraft. Its nothing flash, not fast but can carry ten (including the pilot). This makes it perfect for inter-island transfers, even close spoke and hub operations...  it's primary job ferrying people to and thro, an AirTaxi.


It's sixties design is very evident, even boxy, but I have a soft spot for Islanders, in their shape and design... I'm English after all.


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Detail and detailing is of course superb...  It's a Thranda of course. Notable is what you pay for. If you pay more you get that extra detail, the minute intricate detailing, but the Thranda BN-2A is only priced around sub-$35, so the payoff here is that your extreme detailing at a value price.


Modeling in shape, panel design and fit is faultless. You see every panel, rivets and area (fuselage) strengthening, and it is all there in absolute superb detail.


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Note most door/access doors are external hinges, and all have been well and individually created for authenticity. The detail around the inboard trailing edge is exceptional, notable also are all the rain gutters (rear left doors). Although the aircraft is quite simple in design, the detail is exceptional here, note again the horizontal stabilizer and rudder trims. Overall it is quite impressive.


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It's a lovely wing...  again nothing flashy in design, but note the lovely sweet upturn at the rear of the tip. Yes it is all very professionally skillfully modeled.


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Underside is excellent with aileron balance weights, air pressure probes, flap tracks and fairings


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The BN-2A comes with two Lycoming O-540-E4C5 engines, pushing out 194 kW/260 HP per engine at 2,700 RPM. There is the 250-B17C turboprop engines configuration rated at 320 shp, and known as the BN-2T, but here we have the earlier more basic installation.


And boy is the engine installation nice to look at, magnificent! Highlights are cowling shape, under extra cooling snout, chrome spinners and a fully detailed front view of the Lycoming O-540-E4C5...  rear are the excellent twin exhausts and air-breathing pipe. I really like the chrome cowling catches, they are some really nice detailing and highly visible from the cabin.


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Propellers are 2-Blade Hartzell, but some 2A's can use a STC 4-Blade conversion... the feathering (animated) detail is excellent.


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The undercarriage is very, very basic and utilitarian. Single nose wheel and long fairings on the twin-wheeled main gear was used to save on weight, personally I love this configuration that give the aircraft a sort of "Bird of Prey" look from a lot of angles, certainly from the head on orientation.


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Wheel and tyre detail is simply excellent, worn, tired, rusted... these wheels has seen many a wet salty runway (or even a beach up here in Scotland). Thranda has got the look and feel of the wheels perfect.


Glass is another area of perfection. Deep thickness, beautifully reflective and tinted a dark green. Yes you can turn off the reflections if required. Note the smaller opening (actually quite large) access window built into the main front door window.


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Externally you can't fault this Thranda Islander, it is a perfect reproduction of the real aircraft.


Basically the Islander has an odd door configuation. There is a door for the pilot (left), a door for the co-pilot and second/third row passengers (right), and a third door left rear for the rear-back seating in the aircraft. There is a large baggage hold door (but no cargo door) far rear left.


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In the cabin there are six individual seats (chairs) and a wide rear bench seat. Oddly the seating colour is a bright white? with nice dark blue tartan cloth inserts... why odd? Because this is a hard working utility aircraft, clean white is not going to last very long in this wear and tear environment is it...  it looks very nice, but also a little out of place. If you are not crazy about this all white seating, there is already a tan-brown seat/carpet option on the X-Plane.Org; Thranda Islander Tan Interior 1.0.0 and others in dark/red/wood instrument panel/seat options.


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But I really like them, I like the colour scheme a lot, it is distinctively different, but still nice. Cabin sides are grey with a dark blue piping separator.


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The roof lining is masterful, rippled and brown with lovely chrome screws, mid-way down is a passenger sign, works as well...  there is a large rear baggage area but we will look at that in a few moments.


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Instrument panel

It is a crowded instrument panel, but also like the aircraft utilitarian. The Standard Six instruments are mounted separately on their own panel, of which I really like. Panel facia colour is a dark blue. Glareshield (not much overhang though) has a mottled vinyl surface, with a nicely done inserted avionics heat vent


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Yokes are nicely worn with use, and only a single red PTT button. The authentic Brittan-Norman logo is set centre. You can hide either yoke independently, so hide one or both...  nice.


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Deep down in the footwells are the lovely chrome rudder pedals. The Toe-Brakes work independently from the moving rudder movement, and note the hydraulic containers on each brake pedal.


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Power on and the panel looks excellent. Usually we have an instrument description, but this is a Thranda DGS Series aircraft and it comes with a "Dynamic Panel", so we will cover the instruments in the menus.


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Lower left is the PS-Engineering PM1200 audio panel, then the Heater/De-Icing (Services) and "Lighting" and "Electrics" switchgear with Panel lighting adjutment and BAT (Battery) switch. Lower right is a working (active) Circuit Breaker (fuse) panel.


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Centre is the throttle quadrant, usual (Twin) Throttle, Propeller and Mixture levers, with the pitch trim wheel oddly on the right hand side of the quadrant and away from the pilot.


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Over your head there is a lot of instruments/switches in the headliner...  Far left headliner are the Cabin Temps/Air controls, directly overhead are the four (two per engine) Magneto switches, with the "Port" (PORT) and "Starboard" (STBO) engine starter switch set middle. Note the large inset "spotlight" on the switchgear. Right is the Flap (UP-TO.-DOWN) indicator, with the Fuel Pump switch. Right side headliner are the two "Tip" tank fuel gauges.


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Central headiner/roof is basically the Fuel system. Both main Fuel gauges are front and centre with 65 US Gallons per main tank (Tip tanks are 29.5 US Gallons per tank) for a total fuel capacity of 190 US Gallons (1,140lbs,517.1kg). The switches below select between the main and tip tank reserves. You can select (or cross wing) to select from the other main tanks via the large Red and Green knobs. Top roof is the rudder trim knob and indicator. There is also a hanging Whiskey Compass in the pilot's eye-line left window.


Instrument/Cabin lighting

There is only one (single) large knob to adjust the instrument lighting, but there is also the option of "Lighting Posts" that create an added illumination of the instruments, which is very nice.


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There is the mentioned headlining switch illumination spotlight (very nice), and all the upper instruments are nice lit for use...


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...   in the cabin headliner there are ten seating spotlights, all can be adjusted (rotated) to shine the light were you want, there are also two baggage area lights as well. Notable is there is the setting to turn all ON or all OFF with the internal lighting, which is a time saver.


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Thranda's Menus are very feature rich and highly detailed. There is a popout TAB under the arrow, that can be (mouse) scrolled to hide it, that is if you don't like these sort of items crowding your screen (I don't). The Menu system includes the "Dynamic Generation Series" or DGS, a Thranda speciality feature that takes full advantage of X-Plane's flexibility for in-sim, real-time modifications.


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As noted the "Menu" Tab (arrow) is far left middle of your screen, this will activate the Pop-Out Menu... The Menu has seven menu tabs in; GENERAL, LIVERY, WEIGHT/BAL, CAMERA, AUDIO/SLEW, PANEL and MISC (Miscellaneous). Basically it is the Thranda default menu.


Menu - General

The menu "General" sections covers quite a lot of options, the layout is highly detailed and very comprehensive.


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General menu selections cover; Electric Tug, Window and Instrument Panel Reflections on/off, Startup Running on/off, GPU on/off, Chocks and Brakes on/off. Note there is no "Cargopod" option with the BN-2A, a usual default feature.


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Three selections placed right cover group items, but any one item can be also accessed via "Click Spots" and can be individually selected or hidden via the aircraft graphic. "ALL COVERS" will select engine inlet/outlet covers and pitot covers, "ALL TIE-DOWNS" for rear fuselage and wing tie-downs and "ALL DOORS" for both the cockpit door and rear cabin doors. All EXT - External Lights can be switched on and off as can the ALL INT - Internal lights.


The "Electric Tug" that can be used to move the aircraft around on the ground via your joystick (left,right-forward,backwards). Static Items include Engine Inlet covers, Pitot covers and Tie-Downs.


There is built in "Checklist" (lower right menu, arrowed), and very good it is. But also again changed back to a simple black on white graphic (no cross-off line colours).


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You can have checklist pop-up, or in a window mode, and thankfully move the checklist pad around, and scale it even from the very small to the very large. The two lower arrows give navigation around the checklist pages. The action detail and hints in the lists are simply excellent and the checklist is fully detailed from Pre-Flight to Shutdown.


Menu - Liveries

Second Menu option is "Liveries", there are two options here with the first being "PAINTED LIVERIES". There are altogether 10 liveries or two blank and eight designs, and all are of extremely high quality and creative flare with the package. Oddly there is no Thranda house as default on the BN-2A?


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Two of the liveries are noted as "DynamicLiveryResources" and "ZZTEMPLATELIVERY", these are the current selected "Dynamic Liveries".


Dynamic Liveries

Not happy with any of those designs, then why not create your own livery! 


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With their earlier releases of their Kodiak and with the PC-6, PZL-104 and Caravan. Then Thranda introduced a clever feature of a way to design your own livery. This is done by switching from PAINTED LIVERIES to DYNAMIC LIVERIES top.


Two liveries are "Dynamic" in resources (White)...  another New feature is the (Quick) selection of Dirt (Ext) Externally, Scratches and Dirt (Int) Internally. Via three percentage selections you can adjust the amount of Dirt, Scratches and Dirt Int on the aircraft (0%-255%) and apply it instantly.So you can have either a pristine or a very grubby aircraft with just a twirl of the numbers. This can be applied to any of the liveries.


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You have a menu to select on the right that can colour a certain part of the aircraft, like the Roof, Wing, Tail or Wing tips. Select which one you want and then adjust the RGB colours for that certain area, and the selected colour (here green) is shown in the square.


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it looks hard but you can easily design a very nice livery in about twenty minutes...  the selections of Dirt (Ext), Scratches and Dirt (Int). Metal(ness) and surface Rough(ness) can also be added or adjusted as seen earlier...


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When done you can "SAVE" or ADD the livery and then "APPLY" it to the aircraft. The conversion takes a few minutes (arrowed below), but the results are excellent and in your own design... 


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There are already 30 preselected selections in their various designs, all are very good, and like noted you can add in your own version to the list. New to the Dynamic Livery application is ERA options in "Modern' or "Classic"....  of course personal taste is optional...


Menu - Weight/Bal

The Islander also has a great Weight and Balance menu.


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Lbs and Kgs which can be selected and changed via the toggle...  Lbs In Green, and Kgs in Blue.


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There is the choice selection of all seats, four seats (front) and the large bench in the rear. Selection is via an X on the box for that seat that you want to remove from the rear cabin.


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Fuel can be added and the amounts are then shown and are adjustable as well in the menu (above)... both Main and Tip Tanks are available. Pilot, passengers and cargo can all be set for individual weights all selected via a scrollwheel...  and then all of the CofG (Centre of Gravity) parameters are all shown on a graph, go too far or too heavy and the CofG goes red. When done you can Save the Configuration and then later re-load it, or press Load to add in the set weights.


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But obviously there is a compromise? If you want a full passenger and baggage load, then you can't have full fuel tanks, as the excess weight takes you over the weight and the CofG limits. For six passengers (with maybe a bag thrown in) then can you have your full tanks and the longer range and not go into the red. You can really pile a lot into the rear cargo/baggage section and all the cargo is of very high quality.


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Another option is if you hide the cabin chairs, and if the weight is set, it is replaced in same weight as baggage or cargo (containers).


Set the weight in the front seats (pilot and co-pilot), then you get animated pilots in the aircraft, they will also disappear if the electrical power is switched off and chocks added.


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Menu - Camera


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There is a camera feature under the menu "Camera" selection. The left side of the panel is the "Walkaround" views, just pick the dot viewpoint you want to see to rotate around the aircraft. To the right is the default views can be selected via a menu, or press the keypad to select the view. The FoV or "Field of View" is adjustable via a slider.


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Menu - Audio/Slew

Sound can be adjusted via the sound menu. There are seven slider selections with: Master, Aircraft External, Aircraft Internal, CoPilot, Radios, Environmental and User Interface. One other sound setting is on the Flap panel...  As noted, on the right and left of the panel you get the audio simulation of an active noise canceling headset, which is seen as wearing a headset. Sound quality is beyond excellent as it is a built in audio mixer, so you can individually control the audio channels in real-time and you can adjust the volumes while hearing them play.


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Slew mode allows you to manually move the aircraft around in a disconnected X-Plane space. It functions by temporarily overriding the various aerodynamic and physical forces on the X-Plane settings, it is to allow the user to reposition the plane as desired. This feature is however highly touchy and it is mostly used with the floats option as used on the Thranda Caravan, Thranda Beaver and PC-6. I doubt that a Float option would come to the BN-2A, so this option is of little use to the aircraft.


Menu - PANEL

The sixth "PANEL" Tab option allows you to adjust or change the instruments and dials.


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First feature here is the lighting option we saw before, as you can add or takeaway the panel "Lighting Posts". (hint nice on).


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Scroll the "Panel Preset" number (arrowed) to see the extra six preset layouts (seven choices in all). Sometimes to restart you have to click to "Apply the Settings" for the GPS units. There are four panel options


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One panel option give you the Aspen EFD 1000 which is a self-contained multifunction digital display that is divided into a Primary Flight Display (PFD) in the top half, and an Electric Horizontal Situation Indicator (EHSI) in the lower half. As EDF 1000 systems go it is not as highly featured with the GPSS, MAP,  360 and Menu functions all not simulated...  all the lower NAV1/NAV2/GPS selections are however available, as is the TPS (Tapes) see/hide option with the MIN (Minimums) selectable as well. and the PFD can be reversed with the EHSI. The EFD 1000 here can be used with the KFC225 Autopilot. The EFD 1000 PFD pops-out for convenience.


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Another Dynamic Generation Series or DGS feature is that you can customize the panel to your own personal layout, and it is just as easy. Just select the "3D EDIT PANEL MODE" (arrowed) that gives you access to all of the 53 individual instruments and avionic units...  There some great options including Aspen EFD 1000, S-TEC 55x Autopilot, Angle of Attack gauge and so on...


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For those that find instruments are not to their liking in say, "I wish I could move those "engine gauges" over past the avionics?", then here you can simply adjust that instrument, or even swap the instruments around the panel to your liking. Here I have moved the ENGINE INSTRUMENTS gauges right over to the right hand side...   because I can. You can even adjust the brightness of the instrument.


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Optional is to select the type of GPS unit you want GNS 530/430. And there is a special 3d bezel for the insert of a RealityXp GTN 750 unit if you own that add on.


Panel features include; S-Tec Forty Five X (autopilot) and the noted Aspen EFD 1000, KR 87 ADF Radio, Garmin GMA 340, Garmin GTX325 Mode C Transponder, BendixKing IN-182A Weather Radar and the usual GNS 430/530 PS/Nav/Comm units.


When done you can "ADD" (or Duplicate) in a new "Preset", and then "SAVE" that new layout Preset (Preset /6). So basically you can start off with a completely blank instrument panel and then create your own unique or personal instrument layout if you have the time and patience...  and you can have up to or save 14 different instrument layouts. It is however very important to restart X-Plane to lock in the new instrumentation layout before flying.


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Currently the optional "Panel Background" colour choice is not available on the Islander, like it was on other Thranda DGS systems


Menu - MISC

The Misc (Miscellaneous) page has four panels that cover Tyres/Tundra, Windows, Pilots, De-Ice Boots and DynaFeel.


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Available are both Normal and Tundra wheel sizes


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Side windows come in two options, Flat and Bubble.


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Pilots can be swapped from male to female, they switch over in duo mode as well.


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You have the choice of De-Ice boots on the leading edge of wings and the leading edge of the tail, notable is that they are active and work with the X-Plane 12 Ice feature.


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"DynaFeel" on the lower right is a system that dynamically adjusts the rate at which the controls deflect. It is based on airspeed and how much the control is deflected. This means the controls will feel light and responsive at low speeds and with small deflections, but will get progressively heavier as the airspeed increases.



Flying the Britten-Norman Islander 2A

Basically the Britten-Norman Islander is a Air-Taxi. ferrying people and their baggage to islands or areas of tourism. So the machine is pretty basic, easy to load, easy to configure, and easy to start... honestly you fill the BN-2A up and go, then go again with a new load.


The route today is EGPE (Inverness, Scotland) to EGBP (Sumburgh, Shetland Is). Four passengers and their baggage, plus a little cargo in the rear, so I have removed the rear bench seat to add in the bags more to the centre than in the rear hold. All to go 140nm to the north.


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Mixture rich (okay just slightly lower than full rich), slight throttle, fuel pump on...  then select the engine (PORT - STBD) to start above your head. After a few rotations the Lycoming O-540-E4C5 fires into life and settles down at a pulsing speed, until I pull it back to idle.


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Sounds are excellent. Panning around the plane in exterior view and you awesome 3D audio effects, including "blade slapping" sound when view is perpendicular to prop, so the Doppler effect is very convincing to your relative position of the aircraft, the engines can get very loud externally, so you have to dial it back a lot, open the paper window or any of the doors and the external sounds are far more heightened, again quite loud near the front, relative to near spinning props...  but very good it all is.


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When reviewing the Nimbus BN-2B, there was a strange anomaly, when with the flaps set at UP they were still sitting 2º in the down position?


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Here in Thranda's case, the flaps sit flush (0º), and only when you set the T.O Flap position do you get the correct 2º down flap. It feels far more normal than the Nimbus version (obviously I checked out that 2º deviation, but couldn't come to a obvious conclusion), but honestly it didn't feel right and the aircraft in the air like it felt it was dragging...


The taxi/landing light, one each wing tip, are not noticeable in the daylight? (I have found all internal and some external lighting is odd in X-Plane 12.05? so I don't think the lighting currently is a developers issue). But it shines fine in low light or the dark.


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External lighting is very basic, Navigation each wing and a white tail light, a beacon mid-roof, and alternating strobes which are well done.


X-Plane is saying there are Icy conditions and needs carburetor heat, which is set lower pedestal, yes this is Scotland...  but in June? Notable is the effect of using the Carb Heat, for the loss of power to the engines, so use it with consideration on takeoff, and other vital phases of the flight.


You need a fair tuff of power to get the Islander moving, my takeoff weight is 5,287 Lbs, and you feel the weight perfectly as you move, the BN-2A is perfectly balanced as well for taxiing.


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A noticeable effect is that (all) Thranda aircraft react differently to the X-Plane 12 lighting? In clear bright skies they are fine, but have an overcast sky, then they go very dark, even in areas black or with heavy shadows, I will note no other X-Plane aircraft I have reviewed do this to this heavier extent. As only Thranda aircraft do of because within the way the textures are processed in the Simulator create this effect.


I have always loved the stance of the Islander, that slightly low nose, with the high tail, and two claws for the gear!


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Power up, the the BN-2A tracks nicely, but you have to be aware of the engine power outputs, if one engine is not pushing out the same torque as the other engine, the Islander will pull quite considerably to the lesser power... most will say that aspect is given, well of course it is, but it is far more noticeable here in the BN-2A, so you have to make sure the power output is very balanced at full power...


BN-2A_Islander - Flight EGPE 22.jpg


Nose pitch up, rotation is around 80 knts, when you leave the ground you really feel the weight and drag of the aircraft. Reach for the gear lever and there isn't one, and the hanging gear drag is highly noticeable on the climbout.


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BN-2A_Islander - Flight EGPE 25.jpg


The BN-2 is not a high performing sports aircraft and it shows that aspect straight away... 860 ft/min (4.37 m/s) at sea level is the maximum rate climb to a service ceiling of 11,300 ft (3,400 m) is not going to win any favours. 500 fpm is the expected climb out, you may get away with 600 fpm, but your weight would have to be light, even then it takes time to get to 3,000 ft. Get the climb rate wrong (too high?) and Islander will tell you with a frightening buffet and warning, so you have to keep the pitch within the right (tight) zone.


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Could you say the performance is ponderous, it's not slow if that is what I mean, as the BN-2A can get along quite nicely around 120 knts, but don't expect a fast aircraft, because that is not what this aircraft was designed for...


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I coaxed the BN-2A up to 6,000ft, mostly to avoid the cloud conditions,the Islander hates clouds... it saps performance and it gets rough!


Scotland is falling away, but through the gaps in the clouds it looks marvelous.


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Cruise speed is around 139 kn (160 mph; 257 km/h) at 7,000 ft (2,134 m) (75% power), I am 6,000ft at 90% power and running at that 120 knts? Max speed is 148 kn (170 mph, 274 km/h)... Range is 755 nmi (869 mi, 1,398 km) at 130 kn (150 mph; 241 km/h) at 11,000 ft (3,352.8 m), but a ferry range is a doable 1,216 nmi (1,399 mi, 2,252 km) at 130 kn (150 mph; 241 km/h).


To get out of the cloud mass, I climb even higher to 8,000ft via 300 fpm, I lose around 10-15 knts of speed for the climb, but it recovers the speed quickly at altitude.


BN-2A_Islander - Flight Route 1.jpgBN-2A_Islander - Flight Route 2.jpg


Of course the BN-2 is famous for flying the Islander services Loganair's Westray to Papa Westray flight, which is the shortest scheduled flight in the world at 1.7 mi (2.7 km); the scheduled flight time including taxiing is just only two minutes!


BN-2A_Islander - Flight Route 3.jpgBN-2A_Islander - Flight Route 4.jpgBN-2A_Islander - Flight Route 5.jpgBN-2A_Islander - Flight Route 6.jpg


The BN-2A is a workhorse, pure and simple, a basic aircraft to do mundane tasks easily...  that is what you get here, an easy but very capable machine. The outside wind intensity is affected by slip and AoA. (The more the surface area of the fuselage is hit by oncoming wind, the louder the sounds). And it feels like that if the air (wind) is coming at you at an angle, or as noted you go into low cloud...   it creates an aural immersion sort of feel, thank X-Plane 12 effects for that. As also noted, X-Plane 12 Icing and condensation effects work well here also.


Inside the cabin it's all nice and cosy. Second row passengers get a window view, but the middle rows only get a blank cabin wall. I love flying around these parts on the top of Scotland, the area has loads of remote strips, and large islands including Shetland and Faroe to pick from.


BN-2A_Islander - Flight Route 7.jpgBN-2A_Islander - Flight Route 9.jpgBN-2A_Islander - Flight Route 8.jpgBN-2A_Islander - Flight Route 10.jpg


You can descend a lot faster than climbing, even as fast as 1,200 fpm. But you have to use the throttles to get the best balance between the best forward speed, and your descent rate. It is a very fine zone to get it right, and practise, or familiarity with the Islander will give you the right feel for the getting the descent phase perfect. Below the 3,000ft cloud cover then Shetland pops up on the horizon.


BN-2A_Islander - Flight EGBP 1.jpgBN-2A_Islander - Flight EGBP 2.jpgBN-2A_Islander - Flight EGBP 3.jpg


Weather conditions can be really challenging up here in the north as well, its June and you still get low cloud and blustery conditions... 


BN-2A_Islander - Flight EGBP 4.jpgBN-2A_Islander - Flight EGBP 5.jpg


...   I go parallel to runway to Sumburgh's 09/27 runway at 2,500 ft, and pass Sumburgh Head to my left. 90º then another 90º turn puts us directly on the beam into ILS ISG 108.5. I'm not using the beam (APR) to use it for landing, but only as a navigation aid to line up Rwy 27.  


BN-2A_Islander - Flight EGBP 6.jpgBN-2A_Islander - Flight EGBP 7.jpgBN-2A_Islander - Flight EGBP 8.jpg


The course deviation indicator (CDI) on the lower HSI can be a little deceptive? It shows the CDI position (alignment) fine, but the course needle maybe wrong, as you need to adjust the course position manually. So you are thinking the situation is wrong, but you are actually on the right line if you had adjusted the runway course angle correctly earlier.


BN-2A_Islander - Flight EGBP 9.jpgBN-2A_Islander - Flight EGBP 10.jpg


Flap adjustment is continuous... meaning you can set really any angle of flap you want, full flap and 70 knts is a great approach speed...  reduce the throttles to 64 knts and you get a nice 200 fpm descent pitch nose down approach...


BN-2A_Islander - Flight EGBP 11.jpgBN-2A_Islander - Flight EGBP 13.jpgBN-2A_Islander - Flight EGBP 12.jpg


The BN-2A is a great solid platform in these blustery approach conditions that you get you get up here in Shetland, yes you have to work the controls, but the Islander is very predictable to fly, even a lot of fun to test your skills.


Drop under the 60 knts (58 knts) and your primed for landing. The BN-2A is very nose down in feel, so you tend to watch or set your correct flare pitch...  EGPB Rwy 09/27 is a very short (4915ft/1498m) bumpy runway, so you have to get the approach perfectly right, or you will go into the sea on the other end.


BN-2A_Islander - Flight EGBP 14.jpgBN-2A_Islander - Flight EGBP 15.jpg


55 knts and your sinking nicely, then nose (flare) up...  I feel too high? But I keep my nerve and let the Islander sink naturally...


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...  it is a nice touchdown around 50 knts just beyond the keys, my fears of stopping (the water!) were unfounded. The BN-2A rubbed off the speed (drag) very, very quickly as the aircraft has very high STOL (Short Takeoff and Landing) capabilities.


BN-2A_Islander - Flight EGBP 20.jpg


The Islander is a very natural aircraft to fly, you can throw it around with ease, and it will take the punishment...  I flew the BN-2A straight back to Inverness, and was very comfortable with it on the return route...  again Thranda have created a real gem of an aircraft.


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So the question is which is the best Islander?  Thranda or Nimbus? Well both have their pros and cons, the Nimbus has great effects (wagging tail!) and is very well modeled, but I think performance wise it is not as good as the Thranda. The Thranda BN-2A also has a lot, lot more features (DGS) and far, far better sounds, and all round it is a more solid design.


Want to try skilled flight in the BN-2A, then try this one from EDWS (Norddeich) to EDWJ (Juist) in X-Plane 12... great video, and the type of services the Islander does best. Britten-Norman BN2 - Island Hopping in Germany | day trip from Norddeich to Juist



The Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander is a British light utility aircraft and regional airliner designed and originally manufactured by Britten-Norman of the United Kingdom. Still in production, the Islander is one of the best-selling commercial aircraft types produced in Europe. Although designed in the 1960s, over 750 are still in service with commercial operators around the world. The aircraft is a light transport with over 30 military aviation operators around the world.


Thranda Design are one of the best developers in X-Plane, their history and quality is legendary. So that quality build and detailing is always going to be significant from the start, and so it is again here... exceptional. In every area and detail, modeling, fine details, glass and the interior materials.


Menus are also excellent with menu tabs in; GENERAL, LIVERY, WEIGHT/BAL, CAMERA, AUDIO/SLEW, PANEL and MISC (Miscellaneous), that covers all the options and including sound, weights and balances also including graphs, walk-around and camera options and general static elements including chocks, tundra tyres, pitot covers and tie-downs. Settings include pilot/passenger weights, baggage weight and visually placed bags, cargo in the rear of the aircraft and in the large baggage area.


Thranda always comes with a high range of clever and unique features to give the user a lot of personal options. Known as "Dynamic Generation Series" or DGS, this is a Thranda speciality feature that takes full advantage of X-Plane's flexibility for in-sim, real-time modifications. Here you can change the actual livery to your own designs, but build the instrument panel to your own liking as well, including options of the Aspen EFD 1000 glass instrument and a special 3d bezel for the insert of a RealityXp GTN 750 unit if you own that add on.


Sounds are excellent with High fidelity, multi-track sounds with smooth, finely tuned transitions, amazing atmospheric effects, different sonic characteristics (with the twin-engine arrangement) and 3D audio effects, including the "blade slapping" sounds and the outside wind intensity is affected by slip and AoA. External sounds are however very high compared to the internal and need to be dialed back.


Minuses are minimal...  lighting externally (taxi/landing) is not good in the daylight (Laminar issue?), aircraft is dark in overcast conditions, and the white seats are a bit odd. Note... 8K textures are used, but have no effect on framerate.


Your first thoughts are that the BN-2A Islander doesn't quite fit into the Thranda fleet. But this is another clever utility aircraft, and it comes with loads of clever features, simply great to fly, so it is actually a perfect addition.


A personal aircraft from my childhood, so the affection for the STOL, low nose - high tail classic aircraft was always going to be a winner for me. But putting emotions aside, this BN Islander is another excellent addition to X-Plane, note it is only an X-Plane 12 aircraft and no X-Plane 11 version will be available, that is okay, as the Islander is a fully complete X-Plane 12 machine inside and out.


Highly Recommended!



X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg


Yes! the BN-2A Islander XP12 DGS series by Thranda Design is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: 


BN-2A Islander XP12

Price is US$39.95



X-Plane 12  (not for X-Plane 11)
Windows, Mac or Linux
4 GB VRAM Minimum. 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 2.8 GB
Current version  1.0 (June 1st 2023)
Special features:
  • True X-Plane 12 Aircraft
  • FULLY configurable 3D instrument panel.
  • Fully VR Compatible
  • Over 50 instruments to choose from! (Including Aspen EFD 1000, and support for RealityXP GTN650 and GTN750)
  • Move any instrument to any location on the panel, or even between pilot and copilot's panel!
  • Comes with 5 panel presets, but can easily be expanded by moving instruments around, using a simple and intuitive interface.
  • Lighting is fully 3D, and dynamically moves along with the instruments, as you configure the panel.
  • Ability to assign a lighting index to individual instruments, to allow different lighting knobs to be assigned on a per-instrument basis.
  • Save your own presets, and even share them with the community!
  • Almost every instrument can be popped up or popped out as a 2D floating window! They can be placed on other monitors as well.
  • Instruments can be moved in 3D directly, on a 2D pop-up preview window, or by numerical entry for precise placement.
  • GNS430 and 530 can be swapped out, but a restart of the plane is required, as 430s and 530s are mutually exclusive in terms of compatibility in X-Plane
  • Dynamic livery editor (like in the Kodiak, the Beaver, the Wilga, the Caravan, the C206, the C337, and the Pilatus PC-6)
  • Full PBR control! Create stunning metallic liveries, or matte, sand-blasted look in mere seconds!
  • Additional control over dirt/scratches, adjustable in real-time to dial in the exact desired amount of wear and tear.  
  • Create "virtual" liveries, based on two basic common design layouts (Modern and Classic), and assign any colour to any available paint segment.
  • Quickly create preview of livery in real-time, using intuitive controls.  Previews include visualization of metallic materials and dirt overlays. 
  • Apply selected livery in real-time, right in the sim, without the need to even touch a 3rd party image editor!
  • Option to change the tail number in real-time, or disable it altogether. (Enter a "space" instead of a callsign number to create a blank tail number.)
  • Easily and quickly create dozens of paint schemes in-sim!
  • Also includes 8 traditionally painted liveries, all visible in a convenient pre-selection preview window.
  • Ability to swap pilot/co-pilot figures
  • Uses SkunkCrafts Updater.  Option to participate in Beta program, via checkbox in SkunkCrafts Updater. 
  • Excellent 8k hi-res textures with realistic PBR materials, featuring true-to-life plate deformation and to-the-rivet precision.
  • Windshield ice and rain effects
  • Individual functional circuit breakers.
Feature-rich elegant fly-out menu with the following features:
  • Electric tug, with in-panel controls to move forward/backward at the desired speed, and steer proportionally
  • Control over chocks, individual tie-downs, covers, internal lights, external lights, etc.
  • Option to enable/disable Cargo Pod, with realistically simulated weight, momentum, rotational inertia, and drag characteristics.
  • Option to start up running (all systems ready), or cold-and-dark, for realistic startup procedures, directly from this fly-out menu.
  • Control landing lights, strobes, beacon, and nav lights via fly-out menu
  • Detailed weight and balance manager with visual chart, individual passenger seat weight control, Lbs/KG unit toggle, CG control, external tank control, and the option to save and load configuration.
  • Show or hide individual seats, to create a hybrid passenger/cargo version.
  • When seats are hidden, cargo fills the space when weight is added via the fly-out menu.
  • Multiple camera snap points, above and beyond what's available by default in X-Plane, so you can perform your walk around checks.
  • Adjust your camera's Field of View without having to go to an X-plane menu, allowing for real-time adjustments.
  • Audio mixer: individually control audio channels in real-time, so you can adjust volumes while hearing them play.
  • Slew control: move your plane around the world, temporarily bypassing flight physics.  Includes ground mode and air mode.
  • Dynamic panel control page, with a separate view for the entire panel layout preview, or a per-instrument view, allowing for fine-tuning of instrument position, as well as copy-paste function to quickly replace instruments.
  • DynaFeel panel: Dial in precisely how you wish for the controls to react as a function of speed.
  • Option to swap pilot and co-pilot
  • Optional de-ice system
  • Optional bubble windows
  • Optional tundra tires
Flight dynamics and systems:
  • Detailed and accurate flight dynamics and weight and balance, with accurate takeoff, climb, cruise, and landing performance.
  • Tie-downs and chocks actually keep the plane from moving, even in high winds.
  • DynaFeel: controls that simulate how strongly the control surfaces are affected by oncoming air, and how much strength would be needed to overcome these forces.  
Advanced FMOD-based sound system:
  • High fidelity, multi-track sounds with smooth, finely tuned transitions (actually having calculated the precise beat frequency for each section, to minimize "muddy" transition sounds), and amazing atmospheric effects.
  • Individual volume control over different aspects of the sound experience, adjustable in real-time (while listening to the sounds)
  • Panning around the plane in exterior view yields awesome 3D audio effects, including "blade slapping" sound when view is perpendicular to prop
  • Far away sounds include aerodynamic interaction effects between engines.
  • Individual buttons and switches in the cockpit each have their own unique sound.
  • Engine has typical cool-down ticking sound, based on engine temperature.
  • Sounds actually give you clues as to what's happening under the hood.  
  • Outside wind intensity is affected by slip and AoA. (The more the surface area of the fuselage is hit by oncoming wind, the louder the sounds)
  • Doors and windows opening, let outside sounds in


Installation and documents:  download for the Thranda BN-2A Islander is 2.63Gb and the aircraft is deposited in the "General Aviation" X-Plane folder.


Full Installation is 1.30Gb


Documents supplied are:

  • BN2A Manual.pdf
  • BN2A Performance Charts.pdf
  • Thranda Graphics Settings XP11.pdf
  • Thranda Joystick Settings.pdf
  • X-Plane G430 Manual.pdf
  • X-Plane G530 Manual


There is a huge amount of Documentation provided here, not only for the Thranda BN-2A, including performance charts, reference guides, but also X-Plane/hardware settings and custom and default avionics.


All updates are via the built-in Skunkcrafts Updater


Design by Thranda



Review System Specifications

Windows  - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD

Software:   - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.05r1 (This is a Release Candidate review).

Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : RK Apps XPRealistic v2 - US$34.99



Review by Stephen Dutton
6th June 2023
Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews


(Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions.



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