VoltAero is debuting the first full-scale prototype of its Cassio 330 hybrid-electric aircraft at the Paris Airshow this week. The Cassio 330, which can be configured with either four or five seats, will be the first of three hybrid-electric aircraft that VoltAero intends to produce for cargo, air taxi, and medevac applications.
The French start-up plans to begin flight testing with the newly revealed Cassio 330 prototype later this year. For the upcoming flight test campaign, VoltAero will equip the aircraft with a four-cylinder, 165-kilowatt engine supplied by company partner and strategic investor Kawasaki Motors, a company best known for its motorcycle engine products.
VoltAero expects a second Cassio 330 prototype, which the company will use for its airworthiness certification program, to take flight in the second quarter of 2024. That version will become the first to fly using VoltAero’s new hybrid-electric propulsion system, which consists of Kawasaki’s four-cylinder thermal engine and Safran’s EngineUs 100 smart electric motor.
Avidyne's Quantum Avionics Selected For Cassio Flight Deck
The second Cassio 330 prototype will also come equipped with Avidyne's new Quantum avionics platform. The full interior of the five-seat Cassio 330 model, including the new avionics suite, is on display at the Paris Airshow this week.
Subsequent Cassio models will include the six-seat Cassio 480 and the 12-seat Cassio 600. The Cassio 480, which will produce a combined hybrid-electric propulsion power of 480 kilowatts, will use a six-cylinder thermal engine also provided by Kawasaki. VoltAero has not yet announced which engine will power the larger, 600-kilowatt Cassio 600.
VoltAero has partnered with French company Akira Technologies for the integration and validation of Cassio’s hybrid propulsion unit, including the engine and motors. Akira Technologies will also take responsibility for the design, development, and ground testing of the gearbox, according to VoltAero.
Each of the Cassio aircraft will use only electric power during taxi, takeoff, and landing, while the hybrid engine feature will activate during cruise flight to function as a range extender that recharges the batteries. The hybrid system also serves as a backup in case of a problem with the electric propulsion. VoltAero says its aircraft will be able to operate on sustainable biofuels as well as hydrogen power in the future.