At the Paris Air Show last year, VoltAero (Royan) presented its hybrid-powered aircraft project made up of a combination of two electric traction engines and a propellant internal combustion engine. The demonstrator called Cassio 1 has recently taken to the air with electric motors signed Safran ENGINeUS 45.
The successful first flight test was performed at the Royan-Médis Aérodrome in France. The start-up did not reveal details about the duration of the flight.
The prototype is a 6-seater based on a Cessna 337 Skymaster airframe, whose front engine has been replaced by two 60kW (82 hp) Safran Electrical & Power’s ENGINeUS 45 electric motors in forward-facing positions on the wings.
“Flying on the power of Safran’s ENGINeUS motors is truly remarkable, with no vibration and extremely low noise levels,” said Didier Esteyne, test pilot and technical director of the company. “It confirms that our Cassio aircraft will bring an entirely new experience to aviation.”
The two electric motors develop 60 kW coupled to multi-blade propellers. They are used for take-offs and landings. The propulsion engine provides 170 kW with a multi-blade propeller for cruising. It also supplies the batteries on board. Next to the internal combustion engine is a 150 kW electric motor. The combustion engine is there to ensure safety in the event that the two traction electric motors encounter a problem during a critical phase (take-off).
According to the initiators, this hybrid construction will eventually enable a flight range of 1,200 km. We are talking about a maximum flight duration of 3.5 hours at a cruising speed of 370 km/h. When flying only electrically, the aircraft can stay in the air for half an hour.
The company plans to manufacture 4 to 9-seat versions of the Cassio. VoltAero is currently testing a hybrid power module on the ground that combines a combustion engine with an electric one that should eventually be installed on the rear propeller of Cassio 1. The final nine-seat version, Cassio 2, should also use that configuration. Its design will be revealed later in 2020. It should hit the market in 2021/22.