Edgley EA-7 Optica

The Edgley EA-7 Optica is a British light aircraft designed for low-speed observation work, and intended as a low-cost alternative to helicopters. The Optica has a loiter speed of 130 km/h (70 kn; 81 mph) and a stall speed of 108 km/h (58 kn; 67 mph)The Optica, powered by a 160 hp (119 kW) Lycoming IO-320 engine, made its maiden flight on 14 December 1979[2] when it was flown by Squadron Leader Angus McVitie, the chief pilot of the Cranfield College of Aeronautics.[3]

The Optica, upgraded to the more powerful Lycoming IO-540,[4] entered production in 1983. Edgley Aircraft Limited obtained its initial Civil Aviation Authority certification on 8 February 1985.[5]

A total of 22 Opticas have been manufactured, and construction of a 23rd begun but not completed. Ten aircraft were destroyed in an arson attack at the factory.[6]

The Optica went through several changes of ownership, until FLS Aerospace (Lovaux Ltd) took over the rights, together with the design and manufacturing rights to the Sprint: a two-seat ab-initio trainer that had been designed by Sydney Holloway in Cornwall UK at about the same time as the Optica. Lovaux had intended to develop both aircraft, with the Sprint intended as the military trainer for the UK forces. However, the Sprint was not adopted for this role, and Lovaux cancelled both projects.

The Optica and the Sprint together then passed through other owners until, in 2007, they were offered to John Edgley who formed a new company, AeroElvira Limited, with three former employees of Edgley Aircraft (Chris Burleigh, Fin Colson and Dave Lee) who at that time were working on both projects for the then-owners. The new company successfully put G-BOPO back into service as a UK demonstrator, with a first return-to-service flight on 3 June 2008.[7][8] In August 2016 Interflight Global announced plans to start a valuation of the dormant Optica programme with a view to relaunching production.[9] In December 2016, InterFlight Global completed its valuation and in June 2017, delivered an LOI to AeroElvira to continue with due diligence, appraisal and further steps to re launch the EA-7 Optica aircraft programme in the 2018–19 timeframe.[10] IFG planned to develop, market and support the Optica, outsourcing the fabrication and final assembly to an FAA/EASA Part 23 certified OEM. At the end of 2018, IFG modified its initial program re-launch efforts whilst, again, identifying and selecting a suitable OEM strategic partner to update the Optica TC and to bring the aircraft into production. As of the end of 2019, IFG continues to seek for a strategic OEM partner to re-launch the program aligned with optionally piloted and powered by electric or hybrid electric powerplants.