VoltAero opens a new era in electric aviation with the unveiling of its production-version Cassio hybrid-electric aircraft May 6, 2020 Médis, France – VoltAero today revealed
Paris / Héricourt – Gaussin and Total are jointly developing the world’s first full electric ART FULL ELEC® (Aircraft Refueller Transporter). Planned for the Airbus industrial site in Toulouse, this prototype will be capable of towing two fuel tankers, with a fuel capacity of 30 tons each. Delivery is expected at the end of 2020.
This partnership between Gaussin and Total will be drawing on the 40 years of know-how of Saft (a subsidiary of Total) in designing and producing batteries for electric & hybrid commercial and industrial vehicles. Saft will provide the lithium-ion batteries for this future fleet. The batteries will be entirely developed and manufactured at Saft’s facilities in Nersac and Bordeaux in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France.
This first firm order will enable Gaussin to expand its offering on the electric vehicles market and Total to provide a solution adapted to the refueling business. It also paves the way for the development of a fleet of innovative vehicles, specifically dedicated to aviation.
With this development, Total illustrates its commitment to reduce its carbon footprint on the airport platforms it supplies and operates, alongside its customers and partners. Together with society, Total shares the ambition of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 for all of its activities, from its production to the use of the energy products sold to its customers.
VoltAero opens a new era in electric aviation with the unveiling of its production-version Cassio hybrid-electric aircraft
May 6, 2020
Médis, France – VoltAero today revealed the production configuration for its Cassio aircraft, which will revolutionize general aviation with a highly efficient, safe and optimized family of airplanes powered by the company’s hybrid-electric power module.
Cassio utilizes VoltAero’s hybrid-electric power module in an aft fuselage “pusher” configuration, integrating a cluster of electric motors with a high-performance internal combustion engine that serves as the range extender. The powertrain currently is being validated on VoltAero’s Cassio 1 flight test aircraft, ensuring a high level of maturity for certification and production.
“The Cassio production design’s unveiling represents the latest step in our realistic and highly pragmatic creation of an all-new aircraft family,” said Jean Botti, VoltAero’s CEO and Chief Technical Officer. “It benefits from our team’s unmatched experience in hybrid-electric aviation, as well as the ongoing full-scale flight testing that removes the risk as we move toward the production phase.”
VoltAero’s proprietary Cassio design is based on a sleek, aerodynamically-optimized fuselage, a forward fixed canard, and an aft-set wing with twin booms that support a high-set horizontal tail.
Cassio will be offered in three versions, each sharing a high degree of modularity and commonality:
- Cassio 330, a four-seat configuration with propulsion from a combined hybrid-electric power of 330 kilowatts;
- Cassio 480, configured with six seats and a hybrid-electric propulsion power of 480 kilowatts;
- Cassio 600, with a 10-seat capacity and hybrid-electric propulsion power of 600 kilowatts.
Cassio aircraft will be produced at a purpose-built final assembly line in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region of southwest France, with VoltAero leading a world-class team of partners and suppliers. Licensed production opportunities will be pursued in North America and Asia.
Initial deliveries are targeted for the end of 2022, beginning with the four-seat Cassio 330 version.
The Cassio family of airplanes is tailored for operation by private owners, air taxi/charter companies, in commercial flights for point-to-point regional travel, and in various utility-category applications. Cassio will be certified to Europe’s EASA CS23 certification specification as a single-engine, general aviation category aircraft.
- Autonomy: 3.5 hours (extension possible to 5 hours)
- Range: 800 miles
- Cruise speed: 200 knots
- Take-off/landing distance: less than 1,800 feet
- Maximum takeoff weight: Under 2.5 metric tons (EASA CS23 certification)
- Availability: 10 hours/day (equivalent to approximately eight rotations daily)
VoltAero is taking electric aircraft to an entirely new level. Benefitting from 50-plus years of combined pioneering expertise, VoltAero is developing a truly unique general aviation airplane family, Cassio, for safe, quiet, efficient and eco-friendly flight in hybrid-electric and electric modes. A flight demonstrator, along with a ground-based “iron bird” system test rig and a powertrain test bench, are validating the Cassio configurations, de-risking them for airworthiness certification and the subsequent application on new-production airplanes.
Our decarbonisation journey continues: looking beyond E-Fan X
A word from Grazia Vittadini, Airbus Chief Technology Officer
Aviation connects and unites people. As people discovered the magic of flight, serving this fundamental need drove a steep growth in air travel. This increase led us to explore innovative technologies to ensure that future generations can enjoy flying as much as we do.
When I first started my career at Airbus, the notion of electric flight was considered a far-off pipedream. Today, it’s a reality. Airbus’ overriding goal remains unchanged: we’re fully committed to decarbonising aviation. We’re steadfast in our belief that there’s no world in which the future of air travel is not a sustainable one.
As we start to navigate the realities of a post-COVID-19 world, I’m more certain than ever that we need to continue full-speed ahead with our sustainability ambitions. In fact, given the unprecedented challenge of climate change, we at Airbus have been asking ourselves if we could take an even bolder approach to reduce CO2 emissions. Today, our answer is a resounding yes!
But decarbonising the aviation industry is no small feat. To achieve this, we need to re-focus all of our efforts on technology bricks that will take us there. It’s for this reason that Airbus and Rolls Royce have jointly decided to bring the E-Fan X demonstrator to an end. As with all ground-breaking R&T projects, it’s our duty to constantly evaluate and reprioritise them to ensure alignment with our ambitions. These decisions are not always easy. But they’re undoubtedly necessary to stay the course.
When we launched the E-Fan X project in 2017, we set out with the ambition to push the limits by testing disruptive technologies in a game-changing approach to future aircraft. And we did just that: E-Fan X has shattered pre-conceived notions of what is possible in future flight. This helped us to pave the way for an industry-wide decarbonisation movement of which we’re proud to take the lead.
To say we’ve learned a lot from this demonstrator project would be an understatement. Over the past three years, each successful E-Fan X milestone has offered us rich insights for the future, including:
- Serial hybrid-electric propulsion: Hybrid architectures, high-voltage systems and batteries are indispensable technology bricks for several other demonstrator projects across our wider R&T portfolio to diversify power sources. We will continue to develop and mature them at our E-Aircraft System Test House.
- New pathways for disruptive CO2 reduction: Exploring the possibilities—and limitations of—serial hybrid-electric propulsion also opened up inquiry into new technology pathways. Hydrogen being one of them, which is equal parts a huge opportunity as it is a new challenge.
- Future certification and regulatory acceptance: From the start, we have been consistently delighted by our customers’—and indeed, the entire aviation ecosystem’s—overwhelming enthusiasm for E-Fan X. With our research partnerships on hybrid-electric and hydrogen airport infrastructure and operations, we will have laid a foundation for the future industry-wide adoption and regulatory acceptance of alternative-propulsion commercial aircraft.
Thanks to these key learnings, Airbus has developed a more focused roadmap on how to progress on our ambitious decarbonisation commitments. A lofty achievement for a first-of-its-kind demonstrator like
As we head into the future, I would like to sincerely thank all partners, engineers and designers—at Airbus and beyond—who have tirelessly brought their expertise, passion and engagement into driving this pioneering project. I’m extremely grateful and proud of the team: you’re an amazing group of bold, talented and dedicated professionals! Also, I’d like to thank Paul Stein, Rolls-Royce CTO, and his team for an extraordinary partnership on E-Fan X. I invite you to read Paul’s moving statement here. It’s through cross-industry partnerships like these that the aviation industry will bring competitive zero-emission solutions to the future of flight.
Although E-Fan X will not take to the skies, I strongly believe that its spirit will live on as we continue on our journey towards climate-neutral flight.
It’s a journey that we’re all on together. And only together, we will succeed.
Airbus Chief Technology Officer