VoltAero in Three Flavors

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Jean Botti has had a remarkable career on two continents, culminating in his leadership of French company VoltAero, which offers its latest hybrid aircraft in three flavors.  It’s all based on a modular design which shares a three-lifting-surface aerodynamic platform.

As the company notes, “First to enter service will be the Cassio 330, with five seats and powered by the 330-kilowatt electric-hybrid propulsion system. VoltAero’s follow-on six-seat Cassio 480 will have an electric-hybrid propulsion power of 480 kilowatts, while the Cassio 600 is sized at a 12-seat capacity with electric-hybrid propulsion power of 600 kilowatts.”

The 330 has a wingspan of 32 feet eight inches and a maximum takeoff weight of 4,255 pounds (1,930 kilograms).  480 and 600 models share a 40-foot, seven-inch span and longer fuselages to accommodate larger power trains, more passengers and cargo.

This impressive array of planned aircraft stems from humble beginnings, a Colomban Cri-Cri (the world’s smallest twin-engine airplane designed by one of the engineers on the Concorde project).   The video shows the highlights of the last decade.

Leaving Airbus for VoltAero

Moving from Airbus to his own firm, Jean Botti, the former Chief Technology Officer for the larger firm, started VoltAero with a unique vision for hybridizing flight.  Helming his new organization, he oversaw flights of a converted Cessna 337 around France in tests of the hybrid engine and motors combination.  Now VoltAero is moving to more advanced airframes.

First of three variants, the Cassio 330 will have five seats (including pilot), fixed gear, and as its designation suggests, 330 kilowatts (442 horsepower) from its combined powerplants.

Because the base design is modular, it can be expanded to the Cassio 480 and 600 models, and from five seats to 12.  The modularity is coupled with a great deal of flexibility, enabling different configurations for passengers, cargo, and ambulance service.  The cabin can accommodate a standard cargo container, hospital litter, or even wheelchairs.  As VoltAero notes, “Access for handicapped passengers is important for air travel – especially on PSO (Public Serivce Obligations) flights serving airports that are not on primary airline routes. Standard-sized wheelchairs can be loaded and secured in Cassio’s main cabin area. When folded, the wheelchair is stowed in the rear baggage compartment.”

From top left clockwise: Standard passenger configuration, cargo, patient litter, wheelchair accommodation for PSO (Public Service Obligations)

Early Orders

Design flexibility and lower operating costs often lure customers.  VoltAero already has 218 orders and commitments for its products, the latest of which is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Swiss firm SKYSHARE2 for 15 Cassio electric-hybrid aircraft.  That was announced at The European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in late May.

SKYSHARE is a business mobility operation offering fractional ownership to its clients.  It is making a strong commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, a theme repeated often at this year’s EBACE.  With recent headlines chronicling the environmental misdeeds of celebrities and politicians, such commitment is welcome.

An Honored Leader

Normally, this blog would not go over the CV for a corporate executive, but in this case, readers might agree that this person merits consideration.  Jean Botti looks forward to producing the Cassio line of aircraft, which will deliver “an order of magnitude higher performance as compared to the current competition, and provide significantly lower operational costs.”

A graduate of the National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA) in Toulouse, France (Mechanical Engineering), Central Michigan University (MBA), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT – Research and Development Management), he was awarded a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the National Conservatory of Arts and Trades (CNAM) Paris in 1995, in collaboration with the University of Michigan.

Botti was awarded honorary degrees from Bath University and Cardiff University in 2010 and 2012 respectively, both in the U.K., as well as from the U.S´s University of South Alabama in 2014.

He’s served at executive levels at General Motors’ Delphi Division, for the Netherlands’ Phillips Electronics, and as Chief Technology Officer for Airbus before starting VoltAero.In a dazzling array of other pursuits, he’s a Senator of the German Academy of Science and Engineering, a member of the French National Air and Space Academy and the National Academy of Technologies of France.

“Botti also served with the European Research Area Board (ERAB) as the representative for aeronautics and space. In addition, he served as a member of the Federation of German Industries’ (BDI) Technical Committee.”

Adding to his honors, Botti has received the Medal of Honor from the French Civil Aviation Organization ( DGAC), and the French Legion d’Honneur (Chevalier)..

As he oversees production of the Cassio line at a purpose-built facility at Rochefort Airport in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France, Botti gives us hope that his drive and skills will help green aviation reach a grander future.

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