The first prototype of the VoltAero Cassio, a hybrid-powered aircraft, took off for the first time, marking the beginning of the flight test campaign with the ENGINeUS electric motors designed by Safran.
The flight took place at VoltAero’s headquarters, located in Royan-Médis Aerodrome (RYN), in western France. The company’s technical director, Didier Esteyne, was piloting the aircraft. “Flying with an aircraft powered by Safran’s ENGINeUS engines is an amazing experience, due to the absence of vibrations and the extremely low noise level,” Didier Esteyne commented.
The Cassio 1 test bench from VoltAero uses an existing airframe, the Cessna 337 Skymaster, to demonstrate the capacities of the two Safran ENGINeUS 45 electric motors mounted in tractor configuration – the pusher propeller of the Cassio 1 is a conventional combustion engine.
“Safran is proud to be powering the Cassio 1 aircraft as VoltAero brings a new dimension to electric aviation,” said Hervé Blanc, Executive Vice President & General Manager at Safran Electrical & Power. “We are fully committed to supporting VoltAero throughout the flight test phase and look forward to the company’s future production of Cassio aircraft.”
VoltAero is currently testing on the ground a hybrid power module combining a combustion engine with an electric one that should eventually be fitted to the back propeller of Cassio 1. The final nine-seat version, Cassio 2, should also use that configuration. Its design is to be revealed later in 2020.
VoltAero was created in 2017 by Jean Botti, the CTO of the 2014 Airbus E-Fan, after the program had been interrupted. Didier Esteyne was also involved with the project as he was the test pilot that flew the E-fan across the English Channel, a first for a fully electric-powered aircraft.