France-based VoltAero announced on Tuesday that it has begun flight testing its hybrid-electric Cassio aircraft family from its headquarters at the Royan-Médis Aérodrome. Testing is currently being conducted with VoltAero’s Cassio 1 testbed aircraft, which is powered by two wing-mounted Safran ENGINeUS 45 electric motors, each driving a forward-facing propeller. The Cassio family includes models capable of seating from four to nine people and is aimed at charter and point-to-point regional operations, private owners and utility applications.
“I am very pleased with the testing as we accumulate time aloft and open up the aircraft’s flight envelope,” said VoltAero’s CEO and Chief Technical Officer Jean Botti. “The current test phase is with the powertrain for our six-seat Cassio version, to be followed by validation of the final aerodynamic and powertrain configurations on both the four- and nine-seat Cassio versions.”
In addition to the two wing-mounted electric motors, Cassio aircraft will include a proprietary hybrid power module that combines a 300-kW (402 HP) internal combustion engine with three 60-kW (80-HP) electric motors. The engine will drive an aft-facing pusher prop during cruise flight along with charging onboard batteries. The hybrid power module prototype will be integrated on Cassio 1 following validation on a ground-based testing rig. According to VoltAero, the Cassio family is expected have an endurance of at least 3.5 hours. The company plans to begin deliveries by 2022.