VoltAero this week completed a €32 million ($32 million) Series B funding round to support its plans to develop its Cassio family of hybrid-electric aircraft. The round was led by strategic investor Tecnologie e Servizi Innovativi (TESI), which will manufacture the prototype for the five-seat Cassio 330 model, which is expected to make its first flight in 2023.
Italy-based TESI specializes in the production and integration of metallic structures and assemblies, as well as mechanical parts. The company says it has experience in aviation manufacturing with clients including Leonardo, PiaggioAero, and Boeing.
In July, VoltAero selected Safran’s EngineUs 100 electric motor and announced that it is partnering with Thales to implement airborne data collection and computing solutions for the Cassio aircraft. The French start-up’s propulsion system will use the motors for all-electric power during taxi, takeoff, primary flight, and landing.
The hybrid feature—using an internal combustion engine—serves as a range extender, recharging the batteries while in flight. It also provides a backup in case of a problem with the electric propulsion.
VoltAero plans to produce three configurations of its hybrid-electric Cassio aircraft and earlier this year proposed a fractional ownership business model for them. Its initial prototype, a converted Cessna 337 Skymaster aircraft 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 that are rated at 45 kilowatts of continuous power.
In addition to the Cassio 330, VoltAero plans to develop a six-seat Cassio 480 (480 kilowatts) and a 10-seat Cassio 600 (600 kilowatts). The Cassio aircraft, which feature a forward fixed canard and an aft-set wing with twin booms that support a high-set horizontal tail, are designed for various general aviation and business applications, including air taxi services.
The aircraft will be certified under EASA's CS23 certification specifications for single-engine, general aviation aircraft. Each Cassio aircraft will have a range of about 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) and a cruise speed of around 230 mph (370 km/h).
“We have been impressed by VoltAero’s highly intelligent approach with Cassio, applying its dual-source electric-hybrid propulsion concept for regional aviation that will be both sustainable and operationally safe,” stated TESI’s chief executive, Luigi Punzo.