Rare and unusual airplane - Edgely Optica

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Salty, Jun 17, 2018.

  1. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Apparently this thing is the only one flying in the U.S, less than a dozen in existence. I got a chance to take a close look and snap a few pics today. Hopefully next time I can get a flight in it. The only certified piston driven ducted fan airplane. It was meant to be a cheap helicopter replacement for police and search and rescue missions.

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    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
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  2. wiregoat

    wiregoat Filing Flight Plan

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    Wow! I bet it has a great personality though.

    Sent from my XT1575 using Tapatalk
     
  3. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    I see what you did there.
     
  4. champ driver

    champ driver Line Up and Wait

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    I'm not sure if this one is still flyable or not, N130DP, but as of 2 years ago it's based at the Anoka County airport just north of St Paul MN. IMG_8381 (1024x622).jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
  5. skier

    skier Line Up and Wait

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    I worked with a guy for a while that was part of the design team for the Optica. Interesting guy, and cool aircraft.
     
  6. FlyingIsGood

    FlyingIsGood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    According to Wikipedia, it may be coming back into production next year (2019).
     
  7. djpacro

    djpacro Pre-Flight

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    So did I. From Brooklands Aerospace. I did a few hours in the Optica.
     
  8. Challenged

    Challenged Pattern Altitude

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    Really interesting looking. I wonder how loud it is from the outside or while at the flight controls.
     
  9. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Not gonna lie. I kinda like it.
     
  10. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    Supposedly the duct quieted things from the outside.
     
  11. donjohnston

    donjohnston Cleared for Takeoff

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    And???
     
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  12. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    That's a lot of frontal area to push through the air.
     
  13. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    It's not meant to go fast. Think bumblebee.
     
  14. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Top speed is like 115kts or something.
     
  15. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    Yeah, but look at your avatar....
     
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  16. djpacro

    djpacro Pre-Flight

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    It was 30 years ago so straining the memory ... I grabbed this from Pprune.com posted 8/3/16:
    “I think that the ducted fan was used because it was a new and cool idea.

    I don't have the hours some other people do on the type, but got to do an evaluation on it a few years back and whilst I enjoyed it enormously, thought it was a poor aircraft for the police role.

    There were some handling issues - particularly (if my memory is reliable) a spiral instability I didn't like for safe and accurate low level flying. More significantly however were the poor payload (full fuel and 2 crew with no kit, or about 1/3 fuel with 3POB IIRC), the ballast issue John already mentioned, the lack of any stowage for mission kit (cameras and the like), the lack of anywhere to put the large raft of comms gear that a police operator will want, and that it is only certified for day-VMC.

    The ground handling I thought was also a bit of an issue - the 45ft wingspan would give issues at many GA airfields (I'm sure it was fine at Hurn - but imagine trying to say drop into Elstree), and the offset nosewheel with its asymmetric turning circle was entertaining.

    And whilst I thought that the bubble nose was gorgeous for sitting observing the world go past - or presumably observing bad people underneath - the 90ish knot max level flight speed was presumably a factor of that, the fan, and the big wing, and a bit limiting, as well as unimpressive with a 240hp engine.

    Most of which good engineering could probably fix. Night and IMC capability wouldn't be that hard to achieve, modern FEA could redesign the structure lighter, and airborne handling glitches can be ironed out. The ground handling could be tolerated in a smallish patch with a reasonable number of decent airfields, and some technological solution to the ballast issue can probably be design. In the 21st century, it also wants a Garmin or similar glass cockpit. I don't get the impression that John Edgley however really wanted to hear those sort of suggestions from me or anybody else.

    I have a real soft spot for the aeroplane: it was something that particularly inspired me into aeronautics as a teenager, but rather doubt that it will sell in 2016 when for example the Seabird Seeker is on the market with a full CofA and production capability. Somebody would have to put significant effort into revising the Optica to compete with what else is out there now, and I have doubts that anybody is going to pay for that.

    Incidentally at the same time that I was being inspired by the Optica as a teenager, and an elderly Neville Duke was test flying it, the young engineer running a lot of the flight test engineering was one Francis Donaldson. Gratuitously dropping names, Paul Mulcahy - later CAA's Chief Test Pilot and presently test flying the PC24 at Pilatus did his ETPS pilots assessment exercise in 1992 on the Optica, with Neville Duke as his safety pilot - presumably just before JF took over. It's an aeroplane with quite an interesting fan club!”

    I got to know Francis Donaldson and worked a bit with Neville Duke although never got to meet him personally.

    A small diameter fixed pitch produced miserable performance. Quiet, sounds like a vacuum cleaner. Being a fixed wing pilot, takes a bit of getting used to the view out the front to set attitudes, especially at night.

    I didn’t particularly notice any issue with spiral stability per the above report and neither did two test pilots who also flew it - I was with one at low level counting sheep as a bit of a trial.

    Did a night trial with traffic police on a highway, worked very well as we kept two patrol cars running flat out but then someone invented radar for the police.

    Just didn’t seem sensible to me, why would anyone pay that much to buy something like that to do a very specific role.
     
  17. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Gotta say, I like it.