VoltAero flies hybrid-electric powertrain on 100% SAF


VoltAero has flown its hybrid-electric powertrain for its Cassio family of aircraft with 100% sustainable fuel provided by TotalEnergies.

The flight, conducted from VoltAero’s Royan-based facility on France’s east coast, was fuelled by TotalEnergies’ Excellium Racing 100, made from bioethanol produced from waste that originates in French vineyards. The demonstration should de-risk SAF airworthiness certification for upcoming production versions, VoltAero said.

Jean Botti, VoltAero’s CEO and chief technology officer, said: “Based on initial results, we calculated a truly impressive carbon dioxide reduction of approximately 80 percent while operating the Cassio powertrain in its electric-hybrid mode and with the internal combustion engine fuelled by TotalEnergies’ Excellium Racing 100. It underscores the opportunity for production Cassio aircraft to represent a major step closer to aviation’s decarbonisation goals by replacing standard Avgas 100 high-octane fuel for aviation piston engines.”

Excellium Racing fuel has been used since 2022 in certain automobile competitions, including the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race. Made from winemaking waste, it creates a carbon dioxide emissions reduction of at least 65% over its entire life cycle.

Joël Navaron, president of TotalEnergies Aviation said: “More broadly, it demonstrates our desire to continue our research and development efforts to offer an alternative to aviation gasoline containing lead, thereby meeting the challenges of general aviation’s decarbonisation. We already have initiated several actions – such as the installation of several electric charging stations for general aviation aircraft, and the launch of a pilot program aimed at offering SP98-type fuel for compatible aircraft.”

VoltAero’s Cassio family will be a highly capable and reliable aircraft product line for regional commercial operators, air taxi/charter companies, private owners, as well as in utility-category service for cargo, postal delivery and medical evacuation (Medevac) applications.

By integrating VoltAero’s patented electric-hybrid propulsion system into the purpose-designed airframe, Cassio will deliver an order of magnitude higher performance as compared to the current competition, and provide significantly lower operational costs.

VoltAero’s first production aircraft will be the Cassio 330, with a four or five-seat interior configuration powered by a combined hybrid propulsion power of 330 kilowatts. It will be followed by the six-seat Cassio 480 with increased hybrid propulsion power of 480 kilowatts, and the Cassio 600 – sized at a 10 to 12-seats in capacity with hybrid propulsion power of 600 kilowatts.

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