• The Voltaero Cassio prototype has been built from the shell of a Cessna 337. (Voltaero)
    The Voltaero Cassio prototype has been built from the shell of a Cessna 337. (Voltaero)

French company VoltAero announced this week that it has started flight testing of its prototype Cassio hybrid aeroplane.

The Cassio is a twin-boom aircraft with one hybrid engine facing backward and two Safran electric motors facing forward, with the rear engine acting also as an electric generator. The prototype has been built from a Cessna 337.

"I am very pleased with the testing as we accumulate time aloft and open up the aircraft’s flight envelope,” said Jean Botti, VoltAero’s CEO and Chief Technical Officer. “The current test phase is with the powertrain for our six-seat Cassio version, to be followed by validation of the final aerodynamic and powertrain configurations on both the four- and nine-seat Cassio versions.”

The current test aircraft is VoltAero’s Cassio 1, with the two ENGINeUS45 electric motors installed in forward-facing positions on the wings. Videos show that Cassio 1 still has the front engine in place, but that engine will not be there in the final configuration.

“Flying on the power of Safran’s ENGINeUS motors is truly remarkable, with no vibration and extremely low noise levels,” test pilot Didier Esteyne explained. “It confirms that our Cassio aircraft will bring an entirely new experience to aviation.”

In the full nine-seat version, the Cassio aircraft will use the electric motors along with an aft-facing hybrid power module, which brings together an internal combustion engine and three electric motors.

The prototype VoltAero hybrid power module continues its validation on a ground-based rig, preparing for a subsequent installation on Cassio 1.

More information including video is on the VoltAero website.

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