VoltAero tests new Safran electric motors


French startup VoltAero has flown its first hybrid-electric test flights using the new Safran ENGINeUS 45 electric motors.

VoltAero is testing two of the motors on its Cassio 1 demonstrator aircraft – a testbed variant of a planned range of Cassio aircraft. The remotely-piloted test flights have been flown by the company’s technical director Didier Esteyne.

“Flying on the power of Safran’s ENGINeUS motors is truly remarkable, with no vibration and extremely low noise levels,” Esteyne said. “It confirms that our Cassio aircraft will bring an entirely new experience to aviation.”

The Cassio 1 is a six-seater testbed aircraft, designed to trial the propulsion, aerodynamic capability and safety of two Cassio models – four and nine-seat variants. The nine-seat model can also accommodate an internal combustion engine, alongside three ENGINeUS 45 motors, for hybrid-electric propulsion, which boosts its range.

Hybrid-electric propulsion

“I am very pleased with the testing, as we accumulate time aloft and open up the aircraft’s flight envelope,” said Jean Botti, VoltAero’s CEO and chief technical officer. “The current test phase is with the powertrain for our six-seat Cassio version, to be followed by validation of the final aerodynamic and powertrain configurations on both the four- and nine-seat Cassio versions.”

The company announced its plan to test the Safran ENGINeUS motors on the Cassio range at NBAA-BACE last year. The motors are specifically designed to power eVTOL aircraft and electric light jets.

 Leading the way

 Safran is one company leading the way when it comes to the development of electric aircraft propulsion. Last year the company announced that its Hybrid-Electric Propulsion System (HEPS) will be powering one of the most promising eVTOL designs, the Bell Nexus. This is a six-seater, ducted-fan, electric air taxi; designed exclusively for short-range urban flights.

Bell is not the only legacy aircraft manufacturer Safran has partnered with for VTOL development. Last June  Safran Helicopter Engines revealed a partnership with Airbus Helicopters to develop electric propulsion and turbine technology for traditional helicopter models.