The creation of a regional air mobility ecosystem for VoltAero's new Cassio hybrid-electric airplane has taken an important step forward through the French company's collaboration with US-based KinectAir, which is developing a flexible on-demand flight network, utilising an artificial, intelligence-enabled smartphone application.
This co-operation foresees Cassio aircraft being integrated with KinectAir's short-haul infrastructure, applying artificial intelligence to balance passenger demand with air transport availability. KinectAir's software platform will interface directly with Cassio's intelligent cockpit.
“The KinectAir collaboration opens exciting opportunities, combining the full benefit of our Cassio aircraft's low-noise, environmentally-friendly flights with an app that offers an accessible, affordable, sustainable and safe way to travel regionally by air,” explains Jean Botti, VoltAero's CEO and chief technology officer.
Botti added that ensuring regional air service is more important today than ever, especially when economically-challenged airlines around the world are abandoning shorter routes, threatening air links that serve as vital lifelines to thousands of communities.
VoltAero is developing a family of aircraft that use the company's proprietary hybrid-electric power module. Featuring a sleek, aerodynamically optimised design, the Cassio will fly at 200 kts to a range of up to 800 miles. Available in three versions with four to 10 seats, the aircraft are designed to take off and land in distances of less than 1,800 ft, thereby opening the use of runways typically available at local and regional airports.
Cassio deliveries will begin in late 2022. The aircraft will be produced on a purpose-built final assembly line in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region of southwest France, with licensed production opportunities pursued in North America and Asia.
KinectAir's regional air mobility smartphone app will allow users to order a flight directly from their nearest airfield. Using its fleet of leased and fractionally-owned aircraft, KinectAir's artificial intelligence engine then balances supply and demand for air travel, giving passengers control over their choices, both economically and environmentally.
“Having Cassio aircraft in our fleet completes the KinectAir vision for democratising personal air mobility. Being mindful and intentional about the need for connectivity, and the ability to fly sustainably, is in our company DNA,” says CEO Jonathan Evans. “We will be able to offer a clean, quiet and intelligent regional air service to move people to where they need to be. Partnering with VoltAero during Cassio's development also allows our software platform's functionality to be integrated directly into the aircraft's intelligent cockpit, which will enable a two-way interface for the rapid exchange of intelligence between the network and the aircraft as a node.”
Evans added that having a deeply integrated partnership with VoltAero from the start takes full advantage of KinectAir's platform in coordinating the customer experience, aircraft maintenance, pilot scheduling and virtual assistance, along with route planning, dispatch and operational availability.