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PARIS: Optica returns to Paris in pursuit of buyer

One of the most iconic general aviation aircraft has returned to Paris for the first time in 30 years with its owner and designer John Edgley.

The Optica observation aircraft – registration G-BOPO – is the only British-built and designed model on the static and Edglely is hoping its unique appearance and multi-mission capability will appeal to companies or individuals looking to acquire a certificated aircraft programme.

Edgely’s company, AeroElvira, is selling the Optica, along with its stablemate the FLS Sprint two-seat ab initio trainer.

“I have has a lot of interest, especially in the Optica from potential buyers in China, India, the USA and the Middle East,” he says. “But I don’t want to be complacent. I want to give the aircraft as much exposure as possible and Paris is an ideal show for attracting international buyers.”

Edgely says when the Optica was last showcased at Le Bourget, the British Aerospace BAe 146 and Jetstream airliners were also featured at the show. “A lot has happened to the programme since 1985,” he concedes.

Edgley left his company that year, following the fatal crash of a police-operated Optica (G-KATY). Brooklands Aerospace then acquired Edgley Aircraft, but an arson attack at the factory the following year destroyed all but one flying example.

Production ceased in 1990 when Brooklands was declared bankrupt. It then changed hands multiple times, before passing to AeroElvira in 2007.

The company owns Optica’s jigs, tooling, design rights as well as two aircraft complete aircraft and one “half built” model.

"The time has come to sell it on and I’m hoping to find a buyer who will relaunch production as it still serves a valuable role, especially in the special missions market, such as border and pipeline patrol."

The aluminum Optica has a bubble canopy observation platform, which gives the pilot a perfect field of vision. It has a 1,060km (570nm) range, a cruise speed of 70kt (130km/h) and can fly for up to 8h at a speed suitable for observation. "The only thing that needs updating now is the instrument panel," says Edgley.

The Optica made it first flight in 1979 and entered service six years later. A total of 22 aircraft were built.

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