VoltAero begins certification testing of hybrid-electric powertrain


VoltAero has begun certification testing of the hybrid-electric powertrain for its five-seat Cassio 330 aircraft. 

Installed on a ground-based test bench, the powertrain includes Safran Electrical & Power’s ENGINeUS 100 smart electric motor and Kawasaki’s four-cylinder high-performance thermal engine derived from the Ninja motorcycle. The powertrain has a combined electric-hybrid power of 330 kilowatts, with 180 kilowatts delivered by the ENGINeUS 100 and 150 kilowatts provided by the Kawasaki thermal engine. 

The test bench runs are underway at AKIRA Technologies’ Bayonne-based facility.

Jean Botti, VoltAero’s CEO and chief technology officer said: “Full-scale powertrain certification testing for our Cassio 330 marks another important step in VoltAero’s commitment to produce a new-generation electric-hybrid aircraft family, bringing together our proprietary powertrain with an airframe that is optimised for aerodynamic and operational efficiency.”

VoltAero’s overall architecture for the Cassio 330 powertrain has been validated during extensive flight testing with the firm’s testbed airplane, which is equipped with a powertrain version rated at 600 kilowatts. The testbed, aka Cassio S, has performed more than 230 flights since October 2020.

The VoltAero parallel electric-hybrid propulsion concept uses the electric motor in its aft fuselage-mounted propulsion unit for all-electric power during taxi, takeoff, primary flight and landing on flights less than 150km (93 miles). The hybrid feature comes into play as a range extender, recharging the batteries while in flight. Additionally, hybrid power serves as a backup in the event of a problem with the electric propulsion.

VoltAero’s first production aircraft version will be the Cassio 330, for which the startup has targeted certification in late 2025. It will be followed by the six-seat Cassio 480 with a combined electric-hybrid propulsion power of 480 kilowatts, and the Cassio 600 – sized at a 10 to 12-seat capacity with electric-hybrid propulsion power of 600 kilowatts.