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Falklands's FIGAS expands fleet with the delivery of Islander VP-FMC

Monday, December 7th 2020 - 13:19 UTC
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After a long journery  the new FIGAS plane landed at Stanley Airport (Pic by Chris Locke) After a long journery the new FIGAS plane landed at Stanley Airport (Pic by Chris Locke)

The Falkland Islands Government Air Service has taken delivery of a brand new BN2B-26 Islander – registration VP-FMC – to add to its existing fleet. This the first new aircraft that the government has purchased in 30 years and represents a significant investment in FIGAS’ expanding operations, the islands' government informed in this statement.

Although there will not be international tourists visiting the Islands for the coming summer season, due to the TRIP stimulus scheme, FIGAS is seeing increased bookings for domestic tourism. The addition of this aircraft will help ensure increased capacity for local travellers as well as existing freight and mail transportation.

VP-FMC was accepted by FIGAS at Britten-Norman in November 2020. Beginning its journey in Hampshire in the UK, the aircraft was flown by a solo pilot through Iceland, Greenland, Canada, the USA, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and then on to the Falkland Islands.

MLA Mark Pollard, deputy portfolio holder for Development and Commercial Services, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to welcome this new Islander to the Falkland Islands. 2020 has been a challenging year, but the arrival of this aircraft is an amazing accomplishment, which could not have been done without the hard work of so many people, in particular FIGAS Manager, Morgan Goss, who I know has gone above and beyond to ensure safe delivery of VP-FMC. The aircraft is a welcome addition to the fleet and I look forward to it seeing it become a familiar feature across the Falklands skies.”

Grahame Stone, Commercial Director at Britten-Norman, commented: “With such varied roles, FIGAS really put our Islanders through their paces. Britten-Norman is incredibly proud to be part of the Falkland Islands community. I am thrilled we have been able to deliver another aircraft to their growing fleet.”

The government is also awaiting delivery of a second new Islander, which is scheduled to arrive in 2021. Dates will be confirmed closer to the time, due to the ongoing pandemic. 

 

BRITTEN-NORMAN DELIVERS ANOTHER ISLANDER TO THE FALKLAND ISLANDS

FIGAS Quality Manager Kurt Whitney (left) and Britten-Norman CEO William Hynett (right).

Britten-Norman delivered the first of two new Islander’s to the FIGAS. The aircraft will be used in a variety of roles, including to meet the Falkland Islands’ increasing popularity as a holiday destination.

Britten-Norman delivered the first of two brand new BN2B-26 Islander aircraft to the Falkland Islands Government Aviation Service (FIGAS). The Islander’s ability to operate with ease as a high-frequency, short-sector, passenger and freight aircraft has made it ideal for hopping around the Falkland Islands’ dramatic landscape. The second Islander is scheduled for delivery in 2021.

FIGAS is Britten-Norman’s Southern-most operator and has employed Islanders since the 1970s. The current fleet of four Islanders serve in a variety of roles and are essential in keeping the Falklands and some of its more remote communities connected. In addition to commuting flights, regular missions include air ambulance, postal carrier, freight, environmental monitoring and scenic flights.

The new Islander’s registration honours Sir Miles Clifford, whose name has been inscribed above the pilot’s door. As Governor of the Falkland Islands he was responsible for the launch of the air service in 1948. The service, which became FIGAS, was originally aimed at providing medical evacuation capabilities but it soon broadened to include mail delivery and passenger flight services. These changes were key to connectivity between the communities of the Falklands and are vital roles Britten-Norman Islanders continue today.

FIGAS’ latest Islander is fitted with Garmin’s world-renowned, high-end avionics suite, aiding safety, navigation and situational awareness. This includes the next generation G600TXi primary display, GTN 750Xi & GTN 650Xi Nav/Comm/GPS and EIS TXi advanced electronic engine instrumentation system. The Garmin suite also provides terrain alerts and integration with a radar altimeter, both of which are of particular benefit to pilots navigating the Falkland’s rugged landscape and harsh weather systems. A Spidertracks installation provides additional safety features by allowing the operations team to track aircraft in real-time and by enabling satellite based two-way communication.

Richard Hyslop, Falkland Islands Government Representative to the UK and Europe, said “Britten-Norman’s Islanders are iconic. A real lifeline. We use them for everything from mobile polling stations to medevacs, tourists and people taking their animals to the vet, they are the real glue that keeps the Islands together.”

Grahame Stone, Commercial Director at Britten-Norman, commented: “With such varied roles, FIGAS really put our Islanders through their paces. Britten-Norman is incredibly proud to be part of the Falkland Islands community. I am thrilled we have been able to deliver another aircraft to their growing fleet.”

Kurt Whitney, Quality Manager at FIGAS, was involved with the commission and collaborated with Britten-Norman throughout the entire production of the aircraft. He commented: “Islanders are a perfect fit for the Falkland Islands. They can handle a variety of conditions that other aircraft cannot – FIGAS only operate out of two surfaced runways, the rest are clay, sand and grass. The Falklands has an increasingly busy tourist season. In recent years we have seen passenger numbers rise from 5,800 to 8,800. Despite some initial Covid-19 disruption, we are confident this will keep on increasing.”
 

Top Comments

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  • Jo Bloggs

    Great news.

    Dec 08th, 2020 - 09:07 am 0
  • RedBaron

    I thought aircraft were traditionally named after females?
    Nice to see the new livery - Epic ferry flight (should have mentioned how long it took). Would have liked to have been the ferry pilot.

    Dec 08th, 2020 - 10:34 am 0
  • Jo Bloggs

    The livery looks really good. I know what you mean about being the ferry pilot. It would be interesting. some of the days were very long though. Not sure if you’re on any Facebook groups where it has been posted and discussed but some of the photos the pilot took were stunning.

    Dec 08th, 2020 - 10:01 pm 0
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