VoltAero and Kinect hook up for hybrid-electric passenger flights from 2023
By Loz Blain
May 31, 2021
The VoltAero Cassio is designed to offer short-range full-electric flights
and longer-range hops in hybrid mode. VoltAero
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KinectAir says it'll be running VoltAero's pretty Cassio aircraft as part of its regional fleet by 2023, allowing it to offer all-electric short-range
and hybrid-electric longer-range hops at seat prices around 70 percent of current conventional aircraft.
We still haven't seen the Cassio's final form break out of renders and into real life as yet – we won't even see a scale model until mid-June at the
France Air Expo – but VoltAero has been undertaking plenty of test flights
to validate its multi-mode hybrid-electric propulsion system, retrofitted
into a different airplane called the Cassio-1, since last October. The Cassio-1's cockpit also had to be gutted and rebuilt as well; there are no existing planes designed for hybrid operations.
The powertrain incorporates multiple electric motors and a combustion
engine, arrayed such that power can be supplied directly to the prop in full-electric, full-combustion or hybrid modes. Power is only applied
directly to the prop shaft by the engine when full combined power is needed
or there's something wrong with the electrics; most of the time, the
combustion engines function as range extenders, topping up the batteries at their most efficient RPMs.
The Cassio 1 powertrain demonstrator has completed more than 80 test flights VoltAero
In the production Cassio, this system will drive a pusher prop at the back
of a heavily tapered cabin. There's a wide, rear-mounted main wing, a
shorter canard wing at the front, and twin tails stretching back off the
main wing, joined by a final upper wing at the rear. The multi-mode
powertrain adds an extra degree of redundancy for safety, allowing the plane
to safely land with either system switched off. It doesn't need a huge
runway either, taking off relatively quietly on full electric power in less than 1,800 ft (550 m).
VoltAero says it's developing four, six and 10-seat versions of the Cassio, making 450, 650 and 800 horsepower, respectively. With a cruise speed around 360 km/h (225 mph), the Cassio will offer an all-electric range around 200
km (120 miles), a range-extended mild hybrid range between 200-600 km
(120-370 miles), and a heavy hybrid range up to 1,200 km (745 miles).
Emissions will be zero in full-electric mode, and VoltAero says the Cassio
will be "20 percent lower emissions than competitors in full hybrid mode" as well.
Even though it's running a combustion engine and hybrid powertrain, which
would appear to make it more complex than a standard aircraft, VoltAero says the total cost of ownership should still be around 35 percent lower than "competition," and as a result, Kinect CEO Jonathan Evans has told Corporate Jet Investor https://www.corporatejetinvestor.com/articles/kinectair-and-voltaero-partnership-takes-flight-111/
the Cassio's cost per seat mile will be about "70 cents on the dollar."
That's running mainly heavy hybrid missions; full-electric flights bring
that cost closer to half the cost of a conventional plane.
The VoltAero hybrid powertrain can run in multiple modes VoltAero
KinectAir, for its part, is building an Uber-style app with which to manage
the customer experience, the fleet of aircraft and detailed instructions for the pilots. It'll run across smartphones, computers and screens in the aircraft's cockpit with the aim of making the entire service run as
efficiently as possible. Customers will be able to request the Cassio specifically, or tick another box to request electric or hybrid aircraft.
VoltAero expects to be testing a full-size production prototype next year,
with the type certification process already underway. It expects to be
moving to serial production by the start of 2023, and for the Cassio to be fully certified by the end of 2023.
dan MAY 31, 2021 01:34 PM
cars: stop and go, small power requirement at cruise: hybrid system make
sense, as e-solutions can accelerate better and energy can be recuperated
any aircraft: usually during most of the time high energy demand. critical
in weight efficiency, complexity and safety.
interesting to see, if hybrids are going to make it!
jerryd MAY 31, 2021 04:42 PM
I'd go for much larger and 2 props in the same shaft to lower blade loading, speed thus drag produces 2x the trust/kw.
I'd give up some top speed for double range with a larger wing that can jump into the air and land in a couple plane lengths greatly increasing take off, landing choices.