Short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft manufacturer Britten-Norman will deliver type conversion training to BN2T Islander and Defender aircraft pilots of the Armed Forces of Malta in a three-year contract. Training will take place at the company’s new EASA Approved Training Organisation (ATO) at Malta International Airport, established there for the flying-friendly weather.

Pilots are undertaking initial type rating training on the Defender, a militarised variant of the Rolls Royce B250C-powered BN2T turboprop Islander. This is delivered in three phases by Britten-Norman’s Head of Training, Captain Vincent Jones, and Head of the Groundschool, Theoretical Knowledge Instructor Maurice Hynett. Recurrent training for some of the unit’s more experienced pilots will be provided simultaneously.

The enduring success of the Islander is attributed to its proven performance as a high-capacity, multi-role, high-frequency, rough-terrain, STOL workhorse. The aircraft operates in some of the world’s harshest environments for short-haul commuter, freight and special mission options such as air ambulance, parachuting, crop spraying and aerial survey. Designed in the 1960s, more than 750 Islanders/Defenders are in service with commercial operators around the world; the aircraft is also used by the British Army and UK police forces as well as more than 30 military aviation operators.

Chief Executive William Hynett said Malta was selected as a training base because of the multi-island nation’s historic links with the UK and its strong cultural and operational fit: “Malta benefits from favourable weather conditions and relative airspace freedom, making the archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea an excellent location to help broaden Britten-Norman’s training output. Malta also offers a sensible solution to the Group’s requirement for a Brexit contingency plan in the event that the UK and EU fail to negotiate an effective bilateral relationship.”

Britten-Norman is the sole independent commercial aircraft producer in the UK. It is owned by a consortium which includes members of the Zawawi family from the Sultanate of Oman.

The company intends to continue offering training from its UK sites in addition to operating from the new Maltese hub. The company will also continue to provide selected training from customer locations worldwide.