VoltAero’s Cassio 1 testbed, a heavily modified Cessna 337 Skymaster, with the company’s proprietary electric-parallel hybrid propulsion unit will exceed the total distance flown of 10,000 kilometers with this aircraft’s upcoming flights to and participaint in Germany’s AERO Friedrichshafen general aviation show.
Cassio 1 – which is equipped with the 600-kilowatt full-power version of VoltAero’s electric-parallel hybrid propulsion unit for the company’s in-development family of Cassio sustainable airplanes – departed the company’s Royan-Médis headquarters on France’s Atlantic Coast today for the 1,650-kilometer cross-European roundtrip to Friedrichshafen, where the demonstrator is to be exhibited during the four-day AERO Friedrichshafen event that begins on April 27 (exhibit stand: A7-101).
Since VoltAero initiated flights with the propulsion unit in 2020, Cassio 1 has flown more than 8,500 kilometers on routes within Europe and to the UK, de-risking it for airworthiness certification on production Cassio aircraft.
During these extensive validations, Cassio 1 performed typical regional short- and medium-haul flights that are to be served by VoltAero’s product line of four-to-12-seat Cassio airplanes. Operating in a full range of weather conditions, Cassio 1 visited both local and regional airports that will benefit from highly sustainable air mobility.
With VoltAero’s proprietary electric-hybrid powertrain installed in the aft pusher position, Cassio aircraft will utilize the propulsion system’s electric motors for all-electric power during taxi, takeoff, primary flight, and landing. The hybrid feature (with an internal combustion engine) comes into play as a range extender, recharging the batteries while in flight. Additionally, this hybrid element serves as a backup in the event of a problem with the electric propulsion, ensuring true fail-safe functionality.
The Cassio family will provide a highly capable, reliable and sustainable product line for commercial flights, air taxi/charter companies, private owners, as well as in utility-category service for cargo, postal delivery and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) applications.
Production Cassio airplanes will be built in three versions, each sharing a high degree of modularity and commonality. First to be certified is the Cassio 330, with four/five seats and powered by a 330-kilowatt electric-hybrid power module. The follow-on six-seat Cassio 480 will have an electric-hybrid propulsion power of 480 kilowatts, while the Cassio 600 is sized at a 10/12-seat capacity with electric-hybrid propulsion power of 600 kilowatts.
VoltAero will be assembling the prototype Cassio 330 before year-end, with the production aircraft to be produced in a purpose-built final assembly facility at Rochefort Airport in France’s Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. Groundbreaking at the industrial site is scheduled in the summer of 2022.
Why it’s important: A growing amount of test flights and data accumulation for the Cassio 1 testbed is providing much needed validation for the future of propulsion systems, specifically hybrid electric propulsion systems that will ultimately yield to the fully electric alternatives that are currently longer lead. VoltAero’s focus on propulsion system maturity has worked well thus far for the company to expand their focus to now manufacturing a series of aircraft products that will help operators realize the benefits of electric propulsion.