VoltAero will repeat a history-making electric aviation crossing of the English Channel with its Cassio 1 demonstrator aircraft
The team will perform its second historic crossing of the English Channel today (September 13) with an electric aircraft, using the company’s Cassio 1 demonstrator to fly between France and the United Kingdom for participation in the ACE21 Air Charter Expo and a visit to Cranfield University. Cassio 1 is set to depart from Calais in Northern France and fly to Cranfield Airport in Bedfordshire.
During its mid-day Cranfield stopover, Cassio 1 will be available for inspection by faculty and university students. Briefings also will be provided by VoltAero and its KinectAir partner – which operates on-demand flight services driven by artificial intelligence, utilising an advanced smartphone application. Later the same day, Cassio 1 will fly to London Biggin Hill Airport for its September 14 display at the ACE21 Air Charter Expo, with VoltAero CEO and Chief Technology Officer Jean Botti taking part in the conference’s Green Charter 2021 panel discussion.
Trip comes six years after first electric aircraft channel crossing
Cassio 1’s trip from France to the UK comes six years after the world’s first end-to-end English Channel crossing with an electric aircraft, utilising the E-Fan aircraft developed by VoltAero’s team in an Airbus-led programme. The E-Fan’s batteries delivered 60 kilowatts of power for its two electric motors, while Cassio 1 utilises VoltAero’s proprietary 600-kilowatt electric-hybrid power module. The E-Fan’s historic flight in July 2015, took off from from Lydd in Kent and landed at Calais.
Botti said: “Our second Channel crossing with an electric aircraft clearly shows how VoltAero’s team has progressed in advancing the Cassio program through its development phase for a planned certification in 2023,”
He added: “The stopover at Cranfield University will introduce Cassio to the next generation of engineers, programme managers and decision-makers who are to lead the future of electric aviation. And our participation in the ACE21 Air Charter Expo enables us to highlight how VoltAero’s family of Cassio aircraft will help redefine commercial air charter services and regional mobility.”
Cassio 1 features dual energy sources
To date, the Cassio 1 demonstrator aircraft has flown more than 4,900 kilometres while validating VoltAero’s proprietary electric-hybrid power module, which combines electric motors with an internal combustion engine. In providing dual sources of energy, the electric-hybrid power module provides highly safe and efficient operations by using one source of power – electrical or mechanical, or both – depending on the flight scenario.
The module’s electric motors enable Cassio to perform nearly-silent takeoffs and landings, while the internal combustion engine serves as a range extender by recharging batteries once Cassio is airborne, as well as providing a secondary source of propulsion and for backup.
VoltAero’s first Cassio aircraft version to enter production will be the four-seat Cassio 330, with a combined electric-hybrid power of 330 kilowatts. Cassio 330 deliveries are targeted to begin in the second half of 2023, followed by the six-seat Cassio 480 and the 10-seat Cassio 600, utilising electric-hybrid propulsion rated at 480 and 600 kilowatts, respectively.
The Cassio aircraft family is designed for cruise speeds of 200 knots (360 km/hr), with the airport take-off/landing distance targeted at less than 1,800 feet. At a planned availability of 10 hours per day, the aircraft will be able to perform up to eight rotations daily in charter and regional air service. Other applications for Cassio include pilot training, the transport of cargo and for medical airlift.
At full rate, VoltAero anticipates producing approximately 150 aircraft annually with all three members of the Cassio aircraft family. Rochefort Airport in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France has been selected for the company’s final assembly facility, with its construction to begin before the end of 2021.