VoltAero has announced the successful maiden flight of its electric-hybrid aircraft propulsion unit using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). This milestone demonstration was performed with VoltAero’s Cassio S testbed airplane, operated by the company to validate its electric-hybrid powertrain and the application of sustainable fuels, thereby de-risking airworthiness certification for upcoming production versions of the Cassio aircraft family.
The test flight took place at VoltAero’s development facility at Royan, France, the milestone flight utilising the hybrid powertrain’s electric mode and its internal combustion engine – which was fuelled by TotalEnergies’ Excellium Racing 100, manufactured from bioethanol produced from waste from French vineyards.
“Based on initial results, we calculated a truly impressive CO2 reduction of approximately 80% while operating the Cassio powertrain in its electric-hybrid mode and with the internal combustion engine fuelled 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.”
Excellium Racing 100 fuel has been utilised since 2022 in several motor racing competitions, including the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance sports car race. It produced 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.
“This demonstration flight is part of our commitment to support players in the aviation sector for their decarbonisation objectives,” explained Joël Navaron, President of TotalEnergies Aviation. “More broadly, it demonstrates our desire to continue our research and development efforts to offer an alternative to aviation gasoline containing lead, thereby meeting the challenges of general aviation’s decarbonization. We already have initiated several actions – such as the installation of several electric charging stations for general aviation aircraft, and the launch of a pilot programme aimed at offering SP98-type fuel for compatible aircraft.”
VoltAero’s Cassio family will be a highly capable and reliable aircraft product line for regional commercial operators, air taxi/charter companies, private owners, as well as in utility-category service for cargo, postal delivery and medical evacuation (Medevac) applications.