VoltAero, a French startup developing hybrid-electric aircraft, has flown the powertrain to be used in its Cassio line of aircraft in a public demonstration for the first time. The testbed is built on a Cessna Skymaster and uses an innovative form of propulsion. One 370-hp internal combustion engine combined with three 60 kW high-performance electric motors drive a single five-bladed propeller in the rear. This set-up is representative of what will be used in their largest future aircraft design, the 10-seater Cassio 600. Additionally, the front motor and propeller which are normally present in a Cessna Skymaster are replaced by two wing-mounted ENGINeUS 45 electric motors from Safran Electrical & Power, each driving a three-bladed propeller.
The experience gained in this testing phase will be used to benefit the design of the Cassio line of aircraft. Those will feature a canard-design with a high aspect ratio main wing and an aerodynamically optimized fuselage. A single propeller, driven by the company’s innovative hybrid propulsion system, is mounted in the rear fuselage between twin booms supporting a high horizontal tail. The aircraft family will feature three aircraft, the Cassio 330 seating four, the Cassio 480 seating six, and the Cassio 600 seating 10 passengers respectively. The names indicate the power in kilowatts. All aircraft will have an endurance of about 3.5 hours at 200 knots, giving a range of about 800 miles. Certification will be done according to EASA CS23, and VoltAero is targetting deliveries of the Cassio 330 in 2023. VoltAero CEO and Chief Technology Officer Jean Botti and Technical Director Didier Esteyne were driving forces behind an electric Cri-Cri conversion in 2011, as well as Airbus’ E-FAN project in 2015.