VoltAero Shows Off Cassio 330 Hybrid-Electric Aircraft

Model is expected to make its first flight later this year.

VoltAero pulled back the curtain on its Cassio 330 hybrid-electric airplane—the No. 1 prototype of its latest efforts in the sustainable mobility race. [Courtesy: VoltAero]

At a pre-launch press conference prior to the opening of the Paris Air Show on Sunday, VoltAero pulled back the curtain on its Cassio 330 hybrid-electric airplane—the No. 1 prototype of its latest efforts in the sustainable mobility race.

The four- or five-seat Cassio 330 represents the next step in a family that will eventually include the six-seat Cassio 480—with a combined electric-hybrid propulsion power of 480 kilowatts—and the 10/12-seat Cassio 600, projected to fly with electric-hybrid propulsion power totaling 600 kilowatts. 

“Today marks a true milestone for electric aviation, as VoltAero delivers on its promise to take an all-new approach for quiet, efficient and eco-friendly transportation that is based on a hybrid design combining thermal and electric propulsion for maximum flight safety,” said Jean Botti, VoltAero’s CEO and chief technical officer. “I want to thank my VoltAero team for its dedication and tireless work in reaching this historic moment, as well as express my appreciation to our suppliers and partners for their commitment to Cassio.”

VoltAero expects the Cassio 330’s first flight to take place later this year, at which point it will be used to help validate a totally new airframe configuration and the corresponding aerodynamics. The Cassio 330 will be powered by a 4-cylinder Kawaski Motors thermal engine—a derivative of that company’s popular motorcycle engines. French company AKIRA Technologies will lead the integration and validation of Cassio’s hybrid propulsion unit.

Cassio 330 V2

The second version of the Cassio 330 is projected to fly in the second quarter of 2024, and that model will be used for the aircraft’s type certification bid. The follow-on will utilize the completed hybrid propulsion power unit, made by combining a 4-cylinder Kawasaki Motors thermal engine (with a peak power rating of 165 kW) and a Safran ENGINeUS smart electric motor (with a peak power rating of 180 kW).

The next prototype will also feature an avionics suite from Avidyne, bringing together the manufacturer’s Quantum 14-inch displays for single-pilot operations and advanced connectivity. “Based on its agreement with VoltAero, the U.S.-based Avidyne will perform exclusive development in tailoring the avionics for the power management of Cassio’s hybrid propulsion unit,” said VoltAero in a statement.

The models will fly using a combination of sustainable fuels, including biofuel and hydrogen. “Currently, VoltAero’s Cassio S testbed aircraft is performing flight validations of VoltAero’s hybrid power unit with biofuel,” added the company. Cassio aircraft will use aft-mounted electric motors within a hybrid propulsion unit and leverage all-electric power for taxi, takeoff, cruise (for distances less than 150 kilometers), and landing. The internal combustion engine within the hybrid unit will be used to extend the aircraft’s range.

The company plans to assemble the aircraft at a “purpose built” facility at the Rochefort Charente-Maritime Airport (LFDN) in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France.

Based in Maryland, Julie is an editor, aviation educator, and author. She holds an airline transport pilot certificate with Douglas DC-3 and CE510 (Citation Mustang) type ratings. She's a CFI/CFII since 1993, specializing in advanced aircraft and flight instructor development. Follow Julie on Twitter @julieinthesky.

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