French startup VoltAero has confirmed the successful first flight of its Casso S test aircraft, powered by a hybrid electric/fuel powerplant. Conducted from the company’s devopment facility at Royan, France, the Cassio S combustion engine used a 100% sustainable fuel provided by TotalEnergies, named Excellium Racing 100, which is made from bioethanol produced from waste that originates in French vineyards.
“Based on initial results, we calculated a truly impressive CO2 reduction of approximately 80 percent while operating the Cassio powertrain in its electric-hybrid mode and with the internal combustion engine fuelled by TotalEnergies’ Excellium Racing 100,” said Jean Botti, VoltAero’s CEO and chief technology officer. “It underscores the opportunity for production Cassio aircraft to represent a major step closer to aviation’s decarbonisation goals by replacing standard Avgas 100 high-octane fuel for aviation piston engines.”
The high octane Excellium Racing 100 fuel has been in use for a couple of years in the automotive industry used since 2022, including the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance sports car race. It is made from winemaking waste and allows a reduction in CO2 emissions of at least 65% over its entire life cycle when compared with the fossil fuel equivalent.
“This demonstration flight is part of our commitment to support players in the aviation sector for their decarbonisation objectives,” said Joël Navaron, the President of TotalEnergies Aviation. “More broadly, it demonstrates our desire to continue our research and development efforts to offer an alternative to aviation gasoline containing lead, thereby meeting the challenges of general aviation’s decarbonisation. We already have initiated several actions – such as the installation of several electric charging stations for general aviation aircraft, and the launch of a pilot programme aimed at offering SP98-type fuel for compatible aircraft.”
VoltAero’s Cassio family will be a highly capable and reliable aircraft product line for regional commercial operators, air taxi/charter companies, private owners, as well as in utility category service for cargo, postal delivery and medical evacuation (Medevac) applications.
By integrating VoltAero’s patented electric hybrid propulsion system into the purpose designed airframe, Cassio will deliver an order of magnitude higher performance as compared to the current competition, and provide significantly lower operational costs.
The VoltAero propulsion concept is unique: The design for VoltAero’s Cassio aircraft utilises an electric motor for all-electric power during taxi, take-off and cruise (if the distance travelled is less than 150 km) and landing. The hybrid feature – with an internal combustion engine – then comes into play as a range extender, recharging the batteries while in flight. Additionally, this hybrid element serves as a backup in the event of a problem with the electric propulsion, ensuring fail-safe functionality.
VoltAero’s first production aircraft will be the Cassio 330, with a four/five-seat interior configuration operating on a combined electrichybrid propulsion power of 330 kilowatts. The company then plans to follow it with a six-seat Cassio 480 with a combined electrichybrid propulsion power of 480 kilowatts, and then finally the Cassio 600 with a 10/12 seat configuration and electric-hybrid propulsion power of 600 kilowatts.
Image accredited to VoltAero and Safran