Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Brooklands Aerospace

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The Edgley EA7 Optica was a British light aircraft designed for observation work, intended as as a low-cost alternative to helicopters, retailing originally at around US$200,000.

The Optica, designed by John Edgley and built by Brooklands Aerospace, had an unusual configuration with a fully-glazed forward cabin seating three across, reminiscent of an Alouette helicopter. Behind it was situated a Lycoming flat-six engine powering a ducted fan, twin boom cantilever tailplane with twin rudders and a high-mounted single elevator. The fixed tricycle undercarriage had the nose wheel offset to port. The wings were unswept and untapered, and the aircraft was of a fairly standard all-metal construction with stressed aluminium skin. The aircraft's distinctive appearance led to it being known as the "bug-eye" in some popular reports.

It first flew on 14 December 1979, entering production in mid 1983. A crash of police Optica G-KATY on 15 May 1985 killed two members of the Hampshire Constabulary. The cause was suspected to be a stall: insufficient airspeed during a turn causing instability. The reason for the low speed was never established. This led to the bankruptcy of Edgley, with Optica Industries being formed in October 1985 to continue production and 25 were built before a fire caused by arson destroyed the factory. The company was reformed again as Brooklands Aircraft, and the Optica returned to production, production ceasing in March 1990, when Brooklands Aircraft went bankrupt. An example featured in the 1989 movie Slipstream.

There was a grounding order by the FAA due to cracks developed in the wing spars but this is not in force as there are two examples flying in the U.S. and two are flying in Australia. There are a further two in store in the U.K.

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