VoltAero will start selling fractional ownership shares in its five-seat Cassio 330 hybrid-electric aircraft to European customers next week at EBACE 2020 in Geneva. The Cassio 330 is the first of three aircraft that VoltAero is working to bring to market, with first deliveries now anticipated in 2024, subject to completion of EASA CS-23 type certification. The other two models are the six- and 12-seat Cassio 480 and 600, with each model number referring to the power rating of their propulsion system in kilowatts.
Announcing the fractional ownership plan on May 18, the French company said it will offer one-fifth shares in each aircraft, based on a projected initial annual utilization of 800 flight hours. This total could rise to 1,000 flight hours per year as operations expand, with owners being able to fly in aircraft across a planned fleet operated by various anticipated European operating partners and services beginning in France.
Last year, Montpellier, France-based Airways Aviation agreed to buy 15 Cassio aircraft, with the intention of using them for both private charter flights and regional air services. VoltAero does not intend to obtain its own air operator certificate (AOC).
According to the manufacturer, the AOC-holding partners will have an exclusive relationship with VoltAero under which it will sign up customers and also provide training, service and support, maintenance manuals, and financing options. The French company has not yet released pricing for the shares but will start logging expressions of interest from prospective buyers during the EBACE show.
In developing its hybrid-electric technology, VoltAero has already flown more than 10,000 km in its Cassio 1 technology demonstrator with multiple trips around Europe on typical air taxi and charter flight route segments. The company expects this extensive operational flight testing will contribute to a smooth approval process.
Production versions of the Cassio will be powered by three of Safran’s 60-kW Engineus 45 electric motors and a 370-hp internal combustion engine, collectively driving a five-blade pusher propeller in a pusher configuration. The Cassio 1 demonstrator has a pair of forward-mounted propellers, each driven by an Engineus 45 motor.
The Cassio aircraft will use the propulsion system’s electric motors for all-electric power during taxi, takeoff, “primary flight,” and landing. Power from the internal combustion engine can be deployed during cruise phases to extend the range by recharging the batteries during flight.
VoltAero is in the process of conducting a Series B funding round and said it has signed term sheets with the first pool of new investors. This money—combined with some cash from the “partially refundable” deposits it intends to collect from fractional ownership clients—will cover the remaining type certification work and launch series production at the factory it is building at Rochefort Airport in southwest France.
“Cassio will open a new era of highly sustainable air transportation in Europe with on-demand flight services for those who join our fractional ownership [program],” said VoltAero CEO and chief technology officer Jean Botti. “It’s highly appropriate that we bring this mobility solution to Europe with Cassio–a truly innovative next-generation aircraft that is developed and built in Europe.”
In July, KinectAir and VoltAero announced a joint plan to offer fractional ownership shares in the Cassio aircraft family. The U.S.-based private aviation platform was not mentioned in this week's announcement.