VoltAero, a French start-up focused on electrified aircraft, carried out the first flight of a proprietary hybrid-electric powertrain fueled with 100% sustainable fuel.
The flight took place in Royan, France, with the company’s testbed aircraft, the Cassio S, a Cessna 337 equipped with the engine.
The bioethanol fuel was supplied by TotalEnergies, which extracted it from waste from French vineyards.
According to VoltAero, the demonstration served to validate the hybrid-electric powertrain and the application of sustainable fuels that will be used in the manufacturer’s series production aircraft.
“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 fueled 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 decarbonization goals by replacing standard Avgas 100 high-octane fuel for aviation piston engines.”
TotalEnergies fuel has been used since 2022 in automobile competitions, 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.
VoltAero’s first plane will be the Cassio 330, a hybrid-electric aircraft that has an electric motor in the rear of the fuselage that will be used during taxi, takeoff, landing and cruise flights of up to 150 km.
The internal combustion engine option will serve as a range extender, recharging the batteries during the flight. It will also be a backup in case of problems with the electric propulsion.
The Cassio 330 will have capacity for four to five occupants and a combined power of 330 kilowatts.
In addition to it, VoltAero will also launch the Cassio 480, with six seats and a combined power of 480 kilowatts, and the Cassio 600, with capacity for 10 to 12 people and a power of 600 kilowatts.