VoltAero Unveils Cassio 330 Prototype


VoltAero officially unveiled its first Cassio 330 hybrid-electric aircraft prototype this week at the 2023 Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France. According to the company, the prototype will be powered by a four-cylinder Kawasaki Motors engine and used to validate the airframe configuration and aerodynamics of the design. VoltAero is aiming to fly the aircraft for the first time later this year.

“Today marks a true milestone for electric aviation, as VoltAero delivers on its promise to take an all-new approach for quiet, efficient and eco-friendly transportation that is based on a hybrid design combining thermal and electric propulsion for maximum flight safety,” said VoltAero CEO and Chief Technical Officer Jean Botti. “I want to thank my VoltAero team for its dedication and tireless work in reaching this historic moment, as well as express my appreciation to our suppliers and partners for their commitment to Cassio.”

VoltAero is targeting the second quarter of 2024 to fly its second planned prototype, which will be equipped with the company’s hybrid-electric propulsion unit and an avionics suite from Avidyne. VoltAero says its proprietary propulsion system will use electric motors for power during taxi, takeoff, flight for distances less than 150 km (81 NM) and landing and use an internal combustion engine to extend range, recharge the batteries in flight and provide backup power. As previously reported by AVweb, the company began flight testing with its Cassio 1 test bed aircraft in March 2020. Alongside the five-seat Cassio 330, VoltAero is developing the six-seat Cassio 480 and 12-seat Cassio 600 with an eye toward markets including regional commercial travel, charter, cargo, postal delivery and medical evacuation operations.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. This and other attempts at electrically-powered aircraft are worthy endeavors, but it’s ironic to find this article in the same issue that announces the purchase of 500 Airbus A320s. Imagine how much electric aviation will be needed to offset the pollution from those airliners.

    • That has been my problem with light plane electrification all along. The total amount of avgas produced each year barely makes a ripple compared with the millions of gallons of Jet A consumed daily. Electrifying all 4-6 passenger GA airplanes will have about the same impact on carbon emissions as converting all motorcycles to electric power and ignoring the mogas and diesel consumed for cars, trucks and railroads. If we are really interested in curbing carbon emissions, let’s go after the big-ticket sources (cement production, steel production, power generation and big jets). After all, if we are successful in electrifying the nation’s automobiles, we are going to need a lot of new power plants, and I don’t mean just
      windmills and solar panels. Nuclear power anyone? Just read an interesting article about some companies exploring the possibility of converting some mothballed coal-fired power plants to modern nuclear generators to take advantage of their existing infrastructure. Food for thought….

      • Three or four reasons for starting with GA, and none of them is materially reducing carbon emissions.
        1. You want to test concepts at small scale first.
        2. Electric motors and batteries are at least theoretically much more reliable than piston engines, and closer to turbine reliability. This is a not-insignificant safety benefit.
        3. Noise reduction at GA airports is a big deal – for all of us.
        4. For pure-electric applications, the range of GA flights is much more feasible today (and probably forever).

        • 1. Tests are best on ground based vehicles where you can concentrate on the motors/batteries without wasting effort on structures.
          2.One can argue that electrics introduce thousands if not millions of points of failure.
          3. Noise from small planes at a larger airports (airports having passenger service) is not the noise problem being generated there.
          4. Electrics are terrible for flexibility; especially since the weight of the batteries is ever present. Your passenger payload is always at “full fueled” weight.

          • 1. AJ makes a great point. Still, if people are trying to make better airplanes I’m not going to slow them down.
            2. AJ makes a weak point. One can argue the earth is flat. Let’s let these companies try. It’s their time and money. Let’s save our ammo for the attacks made on us and the misappropriations of our tax dollars.
            3. Not sure why we care about the larger airports. If the GA fields keep getting closed, we are sunk.
            4. Either the plane meets your needs or not. If it doesn’t, do not buy one. We need more options, not more limitations.

            What we have is killing us and killing GA. We need to pick our battles and we need allies. There seems to be a vast conspiracy against us all doing most anything these days. We need to be having meetings with all the groups getting stymied by government from archery enthusiasts to zebra owners.

  2. Motorbikes for years lagged behind cars in modern anti-pollution measures, but under EU rules have caught up — better injection, engine mapping software and some exhaust add-ons made a huge difference.
    I imagine the Kawasaki motor in this aircraft is a spin off from this.
    Iseki (which has ties with Kawasaki) has for years had a line of small, relatively light electronic injection, three cylinder diesels for tractors, I wonder if they might make an entry? From memory max HP of 30 but that might be enough to turn the generator? Run off just about any sort of oil — mineral or vegetal.

  3. If the engine were around 30 hp and the generator was 100%!efficient (which it isn’t) that would only be about 30 electric hp at 746 watts per hp. Running any kind of electric motor wouldn’t leave anything for battery charging.

  4. I think the motorcycle/tractor/30hp comment is a red herring. The engine in the Cassio 330 is a 220 hp four cylinder engine, which – since this is a four seat GA style airplane – makes it far more conventional.

  5. That is going to be near impossible to take off, especially if the nose wheel is non- steerable.

  6. Right. I’m sure their engineers are totally inept, have no clue about aerodynamics and overlooked the nosewheel steering problem.

    • Think about getting it off the ground :
      1. Everything loads forward of the rear axles. EVERYTHING. That means every ounce of usable load has to be initially be lifted off solely by the front wing in order to rotate. Remember too that both wings are also generating down force until they can rotate up to a positive angle.
      2. Being a pusher, there is no airflow over the control surfaces to help in lift/pitch or even yaw control.
      3. If no nose steering, then any tap on the brakes for directional control adds a weight transfer and more pitch down on the wings.

      Yea, you might think that the original AA-1 Yankee gives a sight seeing tour on a summer takeoff, but this thing will darn near need to be at cruise speed before it ever lets go of the ground!