Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Sonaca Group to develop airframe for VoltAero’s Cassio hybrid-electric aircraft

French startup VoltAero has selected Belgian-headquartered Sonaca Group to develop the airframe for its Cassio family of hybrid-electric aircraft, which aims at general and regional aviation. Sonaca Group will assist the French company in translating the final design into series-produced model variants that will accommodate four, six, and ten occupants, respectively.

The design features a sleek, aerodynamically-optimized fuselage with a forward fixed canard and an aft-set wing with twin booms that support a high-set horizontal tail. The propulsion integrates a hybrid-electric power module in the aft fuselage “pusher” position, which integrates a cluster of electric motors with a high-performance internal combustion engine that serves as the range extender.

It is assumed that the internal combustion engine can be turned off using only electric motors for relatively quiet take-offs and landings. In-flight, some of the electric motors can be switched to generator mode. In addition, there is a possibility of completely turning off the electric motors and flying only due to the internal combustion engine.

VoltAero’s Cassio airplanes are offered in three versions: the Cassio 330, a four-seat configuration with propulsion from a combined hybrid-electric power of 330 kilowatts; Cassio 480, configured with six seats and a hybrid-electric propulsion power of 480 kilowatts; and Cassio 600, with a 10-seat capacity and hybrid-electric propulsion power of 600 kilowatts.

VoltAero intends to build a production facility in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region of southwest France and is considering license construction in North America and Asia. The aim is 2023 as the year of market introduction for the Cassio 330.