A French company near Bordeaux won big in the crisis because it essentially got one of its pullers back from Airbus. The two electric pioneers, led by VoltAero, have reunited and the hydride aircraft, which can be scaled up to 10 people, is essentially ready.
Didier Esteyne and Jean Botti were the founders of the small French county start-up who created the E-fan two-person electric-powered aircraft. The Airbus Group saw fantasy in them, took E-fant into its development department and became Botti’s Chief Technology Officer at the group. The two professionals have started cooperating earlier. In 2011, the Green Cri-Cri electric aerobatic aircraft, already developed by the specialist duo within an association, was unveiled at the Paris Air Show. New features of the aerobatics are lightweight composite structures, four brushless electric motors with counter-rotating propellers, and lithium batteries that store a lot of energy in a small size. The electric airplane can spend 30 minutes in the air on a charge as a walking flight at a maximum speed of 110 km / h. In aerobatics, this is reduced to 15 minutes, but up to 250 km / h, at speeds of about 5.3 m / sec. perform aerial maneuvers at ascent speeds.
Their next aircraft was already in the Airbus jersey, the E-fan, where they increased performance with an unusual solution. One is a turbine propulsion instead of a propeller, plus doubling, which delivers more thrust with less energy than their two-person counterparts with conventional propellers flown so far. The other idea is electro-motorized wheel drive, not only in taxiing but also in takeoff. Up to sixty kilometers of climb speed, wheel drive also helps, as you will need maximum propulsion. The Airbus E-Fan can fly two people for one hour at a cruising speed of 160 kilometers. As an aerobatic plane, it runs out of energy after half an hour, but can land for recharging.
The path of the two professionals split for a couple of years. In recent years, Jean Botti, as Airbus ’Chief Technology Officer, has also led the large-engine hybrid electric drive project, which ran as the Airbus E-fan X. Due to the coronavirus crisis, Airbus canceled the program, so Botti returned as CEO to VoltAero, which he also founded. The next flying demonstrator currently running in the video is VoltAero Cassio 1. Based on the 6-person Cessna 337 Skymaster, a tried and tested dragon. All that has been changed about it is that the main engine is also a hybrid, not just the drive system, both are their special features. The push propeller is powered by a hybrid main engine, a three-cylinder Nissan six-cylinder car engine. Interestingly, it acts mainly as a generator, but is also capable of direct propulsion of the pusher, which increases flight safety.
In addition, instead of the previous front traction motor, two electric motors were placed on the wing, plus, as previously said, even a wheel is driven by an electric motor. And at the front of the aircraft are high-performance batteries, CEO Botti has previously developed battery cells at General Motors. They were already thinking about a family of machines five years ago, the picture shows a plan for the two- and four-person business versions of the E-Fan, which then became nothing. Back in 2020, the VoltAero new Cassio family was announced, where the next performance is promised for each version. At a cruising speed of 350 km / h, the range is approximately 1,500 kilometers. A 600-meter runway is enough for him and he will be able to run for ten hours a day.
They will be produced in three versions. Cassio 330 is the four-seater configuration, Cassio 480, with six seats and finally the Cassio 600, with 10 seats. The numbers behind the names indicate the performance of each type of hybrid electric drive. The VoltAero Cassio models will be well-suited for air taxi and business aviation, as private planes, but also as rescue aircraft or other services. For the Cassio 330 four-seater, the assembly plant is planned in south-western France. The crisis is also good for them, as Airbus and other European factories will produce fewer aircraft, and suppliers are happy to work. The first customer copy of the new aircraft is expected by the company to roll out of the assembly hall by the end of 2022.