Aerostructures group Sonaca will develop the airframe for VoltAero’s planned Cassio family of hybrid-electric aircraft. In an October 29 announcement, France-based VoltAero said its new Belgian partner will support the transition from the current Cassio 1 technology demonstrator to full production versions of the four- to 10-seat fixed-wing aircraft.
According to VoltAero, first deliveries are expected to begin in 2023, starting with the four-seat Cassio 330. The company also intends to offer a six-seat Cassio 480 and 10-seat Cassio 600, with range of up to 750 miles and cruise speeds of around 230 mph.
The Cassio design features a forward-fixed canard and an aft-set wing with twin booms that support an elevated horizontal tail. Production aircraft will have a new fuselage that will be more aerodynamic than the Cessna 337 Skymaster, which forms the basis for the current Cassio 1 testbed.
Sonaca’s chief technology officer Hugues Langer said the company is one of world’s top-10 aerostructures companies. Its engineering team will handle all aspects of transitioning to the production phase of the program, and will oversee the work of a manufacturing partner to be named later. VoltAero intends to establish licensed production partnerships for the Cassio family in both North America and Asia.
In early October, VoltAero achieved first flight with its proprietary hybrid-electric propulsion system installed in the pusher configuration at the rear of the Cassio 1 technology demonstrator, along with a pair of Safran ENGINeUS 45 electric motors on the wing. Earlier this week, it postponed plans to make a 10-city tour of France to conduct further ground testing of the new powertrain.
VoltAero also announced a partnership this month with airports group Edeis, which will support efforts to develop infrastructure, support, and customer service needed for the start of commercial operations. Development work for the new aircraft is based at VoltAero’s headquarters at Royan-Media Airport in southwest France.