FARNBOROUGH: Optica moves a stop closer to relaunch

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AeroElivra’s iconic Optica observation aircraft has been thrown a life-line by US consultancy InterFlight Global (IFG). The Miami, Florida-based company will begin in August a three-month valuation of the dormant programme, and if the valuation is approved by the UK company, production could restart in 2018 - 26 years after it was halted.

“We are purely focussed on the value of the assets; such as the tooling, drawings, production and type certificates, jigs, demonstrator aircraft; intellectual property; unsold inventory and parts,” says Oscar Garcia, chairman and chief executive of IFG. “We also assign a value to how much it would cost to create an aircraft like the Optica from scratch,” he adds.

Garcia believes the Optica - which entered service in 1985 - has a lot of potential. “With its composite design and digital technology, it’s design was ahead of its time,” he says. “All the enablers that could turn it into a popular modern aircraft - notably avionics and engine technology - are here. But we can only base our valuation on what the programme is worth in its current form, and without further funding, it is stale.”

Garcia says IFG has already earmarked investors. “If the valuation is agreed by AeroElvira, we could proceed to the next stage,” he says.

This includes drawing up a business plan for the programme, appointing suppliers, and setting up production. “If all goes to plan, we aim to relaunch production within 12-18 months,” adds Garcia.

John Edgley, owner and designer of the three-seat Optica, and chairman of AeroElvira says: “I’m delighted with IFG’s interest in the Optica. I look forward to seeing it back in production, fulfilling the role it was originally designed for, and being a commercial success.”