Home SCIENCE The Edgley EA7 Optica: An Observation Aircraft

The Edgley EA7 Optica: An Observation Aircraft

Welcome aboard the OPTICA! It’s a one of a kind aircraft that almost never took off but inventor John Edgley refused to give up on his aircraft. In 1975, the Edgley Optica – a British designed light aircraft for low – speed observation took to the skies for the first time.

image credit: Trevor Mogg

Unfortunately, the revolutionary design stalled after a crash due to pilot-error. Now over 35 years later, Edgley is taking us aboard the Optica to show us what the world’s been missing.

Mounting the whole cockpit assembly ahead of the fan and engine gives the pilot and passengers 270° panoramic vision, plus almost vertical downward vision; the cockpit canopy design allows photography through the panels.


The tricycle landing gear is fixed and unfaired, with maintenance-free solid suspension, and the air frame is of all-metal construction; its internal cabin width of 1.68m permits three-abreast seating, while baggage space and positions for mounting specialised observation equipment are provided behind the seats and in the unrestricted floor area in front of the two passenger seats.

Roles for the Optica are virtually unlimited, from the obvious aerial photography and surveillance patrols to traffic reporting, powerline inspection etc. and it has the ability to perform much of a helicopter’s work with fixed-wing economy and range.