VoltAero Offers Fractional Ownership Of Hybrid-Electric Aircraft
French startup VoltAero plans to offer fractional ownership of its planned Cassio family of hybrid-electric aircraft in Europe, beginning with its five-seat Cassio 330. The company expects to begin accepting expressions of interest in ownership share positions at the EBACE show in Geneva on May 23-25.
Powered by a 330-kW parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system developed by VoltAero, the Cassio 330 is due to be available in 2024. The company is in the midst of the Series B funding round to cover certification of the Cassio 330 and launch of production in a new factory at Rochefort Airport.
Voltaero expects to launch the fractional-ownership program in France. The startup does not plan to obtain its own air operator’s certificate (AOC), but to partner with European operators that will fly the aircraft on behalf of share owners.
“We are clearly open to expansion into other regions of Europe,” said VoltAero General Director Marina Evans. “We see much interest from operators in this type of shared ownership, and VoltAero would like to be the coordinator with the fractional share clients in order to partner with operators.”
A 20% share in a Cassio 330 will guarantee the owner 880 hr. a year. “But it could go up to 1,000 flight hours,” she said. “We foresee a baseline of five fractional share owners per aircraft. And we will combine them based on their need for the annual travel volume.”
Cassio 330s are to be positioned at regional and local airports to meet user demand. VoltAero subsequently plans to expand the program to include the six-seat 480-kW Cassio 40 and 10-12-passenger 600-kW Cassio 600. Deposits on shares will help fund certification activities, but will be partially refundable.
Launch of the fractional ownership program does not signal a shift in VoltAero’s strategy, said co-founder Evans. “The goal is still to sell to the operators directly. But if we can sell the fractional customer base to operators and provide financing options, it will enhance the operators’ . . . potential revenues.”
In March, fractional market leader NetJets announced it had secured the right to purchase up to 150 Lilium Jet electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft for its shared-ownership program. This was one of the first signals of potential demand from private customers for electrified aircraft.