VoltAero has selected Safran’s EngineUs 100 electric motor to power its Cassio 330 prototype, and the company is partnering with Thales to implement airborne data collection and computing solutions for its Cassio family of hybrid-electric aircraft, the company announced this week at the UK’s Farnborough International Airshow.
The French start-up plans to produce three configurations of its hybrid-electric Cassio aircraft. Its initial prototype, a converted Cessna 337 Skymaster known as Cassio 1, has already logged more than 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) in test flights since 2019. The Cassio 1 testbed has two EngineUs 45 electric motors, which are rated at 45 kilowatts of continuous power.
Now VoltAero has announced that the four-seat Cassio 330, the company’s first production model, will use an EngineUs 100 motor, which has a maximum rating of more than 150 kilowatts. VoltAero and Safran signed the agreement on July 20 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Safran has agreed to deliver the first EngineUs 100 motor by the end of the year when VoltAero will begin ground-based tests of its hybrid-electric propulsion system. Safran then plans to supply a flight-qualified EngineUs 100 motor in 2023, after which VoltAero will be able to begin flight testing of its first Cassio 330 prototype.
“This marks another important step toward the Cassio 330’s first takeoff, initiating the certification program for our Cassio family of airplanes,” said Jean Botti, VoltAero’s CEO and chief technology officer. “Cassio will benefit from the high-power density and proven technology that Safran Electrical & Power has applied in its EngineUs electric motor product line.”
In addition to the Cassio 330, VoltAero plans to develop a six-seat Cassio 480 (480 kilowatts) and the 10-seat Cassio 600 (600 kilowatts). The Cassio aircraft are designed for a variety of general aviation and business applications, including air taxi services. They will be certified under EASA's CS23 certification specifications for single-engine, general aviation aircraft. Each of the Cassio aircraft will have a range of about 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) and a cruise speed of about 230 mph (370 km/h).
Earlier this week at the Farnborough International Airshow, on July 19, VoltAero announced that it will work with the French aerospace technology group Thales to implement the company’s FlytLink Edge Computing system in its Cassio family of aircraft.
VoltAero says Thales’s data collection and computing system will enhance Cassio’s autonomy, sustainability, and operability. It uses a compact processor that’s connected to the cloud to enable real-time data collection, processing, and transmission from an aircraft’s onboard cameras and sensors. The companies have already begun validating the technologies on the Cassio 1 prototype.
“Potential future uses of Thales’s FlytLink Edge Computing solutions on production versions of the Cassio electric-hybrid aircraft family include optimizing route planning for flight operations that are even more efficient and environmentally friendly,” said VoltAero CEO and chief technology officer Jean Botti. “The real-time processing of imagery from onboard cameras with artificial intelligence could also support such functions as the detection of obstacles and air traffic, an asset for flight safety.”
“Developing innovative solutions for regional and urban air mobility needs to build on the best of avionics know-how, further improving the safety of these new aircraft and offering breakthrough solutions based on the most advanced technologies," added Marc Duval-Destin, vice president of strategy, product, and innovation of Thales flight avionics activities. “This is precisely what we are implementing with VoltAero—beginning on Cassio 1—to test and develop solutions that will make a difference for air transportation of tomorrow.”