June 28th 2015 will see the retirement of a Channel Islands aviation Icon, G-JOEY the Britten Norman Trislander. JOEY is operated by Aurigny Air Services, based in Channel Islands. This much loved aircraft has seen just shy of 40 years service in its lifetime, 34 of those years with Aurigny and is regarded as the flagship of their Trislander fleet. Construction Number 1016 off the Britten Norman production line, who would have thought that this Trislander would have become such an icon for an Airline as well as a recognised public figure. Mark Empson guest reports for AeroResource.
The Trislander was designed as a larger, more powerful version of the Islander. The new design offered a longer cabin for increased capacity as well as the distinctive third engine mounted in the tail offering more power. The aircraft is capable of carrying up to 16 passengers with 8 seats, 2 a breast down the cabin, typically operated by a single pilot and a total of 73 aircraft were built in the United Kingdom at Britten Normans factory in Bembridge, Isle of Wight.
Construction number 1016 was originally delivered under the registration G-BDGG, owned by Britten Norman. The aircraft then went on to Canadian Airline, Simpson Air Canada under the identity of C-GSAA in December 1975. 15th July 1979 saw it return to the United Kingdom and back onto the British register under its former registration G-BDGG one again owned by Britten Norman. On the 15th June 1979, 1016 was chartered to Aurigny where it flew for two full years. During this time the aircraft wore the remnants of Simpson Air Canada’s paint scheme with basic Aurigny titles. Then, on 27th November 1981, Aurigny purchased the aircraft outright from Britten Norman, registering the aircraft under the famous G-JOEY. Since then JOEY has been used extensively for publicity purposes with the Airline. Over the years Aurigny have developed a wide range of JOEY merchandise ranging from coloring books to a “JOEY Fun Zone” for children and even a JOEY club. However perhaps amongst the most popular marketing idea was “JOEY’s Scenic Tours”. These proved very popular taking people for a 20-minute scenic tour of individual Channel Islands including Guernsey and Alderney. JOEY himself will fly the last of these tours on June 27th 2015 from Alderney.
Since being delivered to the Airline JOEY has worn a number of different paint schemes with the adoption of a red nose and smiley face added in approximately 1995. As well as for marketing purposes, the aircraft has proven to be an ideal solution for providing a transport link between the Channel Islands as well as to the mainland including destinations such as Southampton and Dinard/St.Marlo.
Aurigny were once one of the largest operators of Trislanders and now have a current active fleet of four including JOEY. However back on 17th April the airline announced that it was to sell its remaining Trislander aircraft given the high maintenance and running costs and the first aircraft has already been withdrawn from use. These aircraft are currently planned to end service for Aurigny in March 2016, with the view of selling the aircraft. The airline then plans to replace the fleet with Dornier 228 Aircraft, with the first one already delivered.
Despite this, the final resting place of construction number 1016, G-JOEY is not yet fully decided. There are plans a foot to try and keep the aircraft in Guernsey as a static only exhibit however as yet, nothing has been fully decided by the airline. One thing is for certain JOEY will be well missed by the public given the fond affection the aircraft has developed over its years of service.