The French startup VoltAero launched the maiden flight of its first hybrid aircraft. The prototype, called Cassio 1, is based on a Cessna 337 Skymaster and comes equipped with two electric motors from Safran and a thrust propeller with combustion engine from Nissan.
The two electric motors mounted on the wings produce 45kW and 70kW at the top. The hybrid propulsion system is completed by said propeller with a highly modified Nissan internal combustion engine that delivers 170kW and is contributed by Solution F, a player in French motor racing.
The company plans to offer three variants of its Cassio aircraft from 2021 or 2022: A purely electric version with four seats and two hybrid versions with six and nine seats. Jean Botti, VoltAero’s CEO and Chief Technical Officer explains “the current test phase is with the powertrain for our six-seat Cassio version, to be followed by validation of the final aerodynamic and powertrain configurations on both the four- and nine-seat Cassio versions.”
While the electric plane version aims at a range of 200 km, the hybrid versions are to have of 200 to 600 km or over 600 km. The company names private owners, air taxi and charter companies and operators of commercial short-haul flights as target groups.
Also building on the current testing, VoltAero is developing its hybrid power module combining a combustion engine and three electric motors. It will be used in the full-up nine-seat version of the Cassio aircraft. The prototype VoltAero hybrid power module continues its validation on a ground-based rig, preparing for a subsequent integration on the Cassio 1 testbed aircraft.
By the way, before founding VoltAero, CEO Jean Botti headed Airbus’ now discontinued e-fan programme. Meanwhile, Botti announced that he would unveil a design studio of the Cassio 2 that will show the final look of the aircraft on 24 March.