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Sud Aviation Caravelle

By Wikipedia,
the free encyclopedia,

Sud SE-210 Caravelle 10B3 Super B of Finnair at Basel Airport in April 1976
Role Airliner
Manufacturer Sud Aviation
First flight 27 May 1955
Introduced 1959
Retired 2005
Number built 282

The Sud Aviation SE 210 Caravelle was the first short/medium-range jet airliner, produced by the French Sud Aviation firm starting in 1955 (when it was still known as SNCASE). The Caravelle would go on to be one of the more successful European first generation jetliners, selling throughout Europe and even penetrating the United States market, with an order for 20 from United Airlines. The Caravelle established the aft-mounted-engine, clean-wing design that has since been used on a wide variety of subsequent aircraft.

Design and development

On 12 October 1951 the Comité du Matériel Civil (civil aircraft committee) published a specification for a medium range aircraft, which was later sent to the industry by the Direction Technique et Industrielle. This called for an aircraft carrying 55 to 65 passengers and 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) of cargo on routes up to 2,000 km (1,100 nmi; 1,200 mi) with a cruise speed about 600 km/h (320 kn; 370 mph). The type and number of engines was not specified. Various design studies for aircraft in this category had been underway since 1946 by several of the leading French aircraft manufacturing organisations, but none had the financial power to start construction.

Response from the French industry was strong, with every major manufacturer sending in at least one proposal, and a total of 20 different designs were received. Most of the proposals used all-turbojet power, although Breguet entered a number of designs for both turbojet and turboprop types; among these was one for an Atar-powered tri-jet to be developed in association with the SNCA du Nord and a turboprop type, all known as Br. 978. Hurel-Dubois entered several turboprop designs based on a narrow fuselage and shoulder mounted wing similar to many regional propliners. Proposals from the SNCA du Sud-Ouest included the S.O.60 with two Rolls-Royce Avon RA.7 engines, with two smaller Turbomeca Marborés as auxiliaries. SNCA du Sud-Est returned a number of designs from the X-200 to X-210, all of them pure-jet.

After studying the various entries, the Comité du Matériel Civil cut the list to three entrants on 28 March 1952: the four-engined Avon/Marbore S.0.60, the twin-Avon Hurel-Dubois project, and the three-Avon Sud-Est X-210. At this point Rolls-Royce started offering a new version of the Avon that could develop 9,000 lbf (40 kN) thrust, making the auxiliary engines on the S.O.60 and the third engine on the X-210 unnecessary.

The Committee requested SNCASE re-submit the X-210 as a twin-Avon design. In doing so they decided not to bother moving the remaining engines from their rear-mounted position; most designs mounted the engines under the wing where they can be mounted on the spar for lower overall weight, but SNCASE felt the savings were not worth the effort. This turned out to be a benefit to the design, as the cabin noise was greatly reduced. The revised X-210 design with twin Avons was re-submitted to the SGACC in July 1952.

Two months later the SNCASE received official notification that its design had been accepted. On 6 July 1953 the SGACC ordered two prototypes and two static airframes for fatigue testing. Sud's design licensed several fuselage features from de Havilland, a company Sud had dealings with for several earlier designs. The nose area and cockpit layout were both taken directly from the de Havilland Comet, while the rest of the plane was locally designed.

Detail of the Rolls-Royce Avon turbojet engines
Detail of the Rolls-Royce Avon turbojet engines

The first prototype of the Caravelle (F-WHHH), christened by Madame de Gaulle, was rolled out on 21 April 1955, and flew on 27 May powered by two British Rolls-Royce RA-26 Mk.522 with 4,536 kgf (44,480 N; 10,000 lbf) of unitary thrust. The crew was composed by Pierre Nadot (first officer), André Moynot (second officer), Jean Avril (mechanic), André Préneron (radio operator) and Roger Beteille. The flight duration was 41 minutes. The second prototype flew a year later on 6 May 1956. The first prototype had a cargo door on the lower left side of the fuselage, but this was removed in the second prototype for an all-seating arrangement. The first order was from Air France in 1956, followed by SAS in 1957. That year Sud-Est merged with Sud-Ouest to become Sud Aviation, but the original SE naming was retained. More orders followed, mainly triggered by presentations on airshows and demonstrations to potential customers. The Caravelle was certified in May 1959 and shortly afterwards entered service with SAS and Air France.

Several models were produced over the lifetime of the production run, as the power of the available engines grew and allowed for higher takeoff weights. By this time most of Sud Aviation's design department turned to a supersonic transport of the same general size and range as the Caravelle, naturally naming it the Super-Caravelle, however this work would later be merged with similar work at the Bristol Aeroplane Company to produce the Concorde. In some configurations, aircraft had a number of rearward facing passenger seats, an uncommon seating arrangement for civil aircraft.

In total 282 Caravelles of all types were built (2 prototype or pre-production aircraft and 280 production aircraft), with Sud Aviation's break-even point at around the 200 mark.


The triangular windows of this plane remained unaltered throughout the development
The triangular windows of this plane remained unaltered throughout the development

data from

Variant Length Engines Passengers
Caravelle I 32.01 m (105 ft 0 in) RA-29 Mk.522 80
Caravelle IA 32.01 m (105 ft 0 in) RA-29 Mk.522A 80
Caravelle III 32.01 m (105 ft 0 in) RA-29 Mk.527 and 527B 80
Caravelle VI-N 32.01 m (105 ft 0 in) RA-29 Mk.531 and 531B 80
Caravelle VI-R 32.01 m (105 ft 0 in) RA-29 Mk.533R 80
Caravelle 10R 32.01 m (105 ft 0 in) P&W JT8D-7 80
Caravelle 11R 32.71 m (107 ft 4 in) P&W JT8D-7 89-99
Caravelle 10B 33.01 m (108 ft 4 in) P&W JT8D-7 105
Caravelle 12 36.24 m (118 ft 11 in) P&W JT8D-9 140

Caravelle I
Similar to the original prototypes which first flew on May 14, 1958. This variant was powered by two Rolls-Royce RA-29 Avon Mk.522 with 4,763 kgf (46,710 N; 10,500 lbf) of unitary thrust and a passenger capacity of 80 people. The French certification was obtained on April 2, 1959 and the FAA one six days later. The first revenue flight took place in that same year with Air France in the Paris-Rome-Athens-Istanbul route. The Air France Caravelle F-BHRB "Lorraine" was introduced in the Paris-London route on July 27, 1959.
Sales: 20 sold; to Air France (10), SAS (6), Air Algérie (2), and VARIG (2). One of the VARIG examples was leased by Sud to Air Vietnam and Middle East Airlines before delivery to Royal Air Maroc.
Caravelle IA
This variant had the same external configuration as variant I but with more powerful engines, the Rolls-Royce Avon RA-29/1 Mk.526. Obviously, with improved capabilities. The first flight took place on February 11, 1960. Variants I and IA were later reconverted to the III variant.
Sales: 12 built. Deliveries were to Air France, SAS, Air Algérie, Finnair, and Royal Air Maroc.
Caravelle III
Later improvements of the Avon engine led to another model: The Caravelle III. It first flew on December 30, 1959, beginning service with Alitalia four months later, in April, 1960. The Caravelle III was powered with Rolls-Royce Avon RA-29/3 Mk.527 and RA-29/3 Mk.527B, both with 5,170 kgf (50,700 N; 11,400 lbf) of unitary thrust.
Sales: The Series III was the best-selling Caravelle with 78 built. Of the 32 Series I, 31 were upgraded to Series III standard. Air Inter used 16 of this type for its domestic routes. Major deliveries to Air France, as well as examples for Swissair, Alitalia, SAS, and Royal Air Maroc.

Corse Air VI-N variant
Corse Air VI-N variant
Caravelle VI-N
Power-improved version with Avon RA-29/6 Mk 531 and RA 29/6 Mk 531B with 5,535 kgf (54,280 N; 12,200 lbf) of unitary thrust engines. The capabilities were improved and the weights increased; the payload was reduced. The Caravelle VI-N first flew on September 10, 1960 beginning service with Sabena (Belgium) on January 1961. Of the 78 Series III, 5 were upgraded to Series VI N.
Sales: 53 built. Deliveries to Saeta, Corse Air, Europe A.S., Minerve and Pushpaka Aviation.
Caravelle VI-R
This variant introduced a major improvement in aviation history, being the first airliner in the world provided with thrust reversers and spoilers. Previous models had braking parachutes. The cockpit windows were made bigger with redesigned layout and also more powerful brakes were introduced. It first flew on February 6, 1961, obtaining the FAA certificate on June 5 that same year. It began service with United Airlines on July 14. Dash-6R was powered by Avon Ra-29 Mk. 533R and Mk 535R (R, for Reverse) with a unitary thrust of 5,715 kgf (56,050 N; 12,600 lbf).
Sales: 56 built, 20 for United Airlines. Other series VI customers included Indian Airlines (9), Panair do Brasil (4), Cruzeiro do Sul, Iberia Líneas Aéreas De España (4), LAN Chile (3), Aerolíneas Argentinas (3), TAP Portugal (3). This was also used by Filipinas Orient Airways [2], Aerocesar, Airborne Express and SA Nacionales.
Caravelle VII 
This was a modified Series III which was purchased by General Electric and equipped with GE CJ-805 engines. It would form the basis for later sales into the US. A TWA order for 20 aircraft was cancelled in favor of the DC-9.
Caravelle 10A
Based on the Series VII, but intended for the US market. The 10A was 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) longer than the Series VI, with the windows located 200 mm (7.9 in) higher on the fuselage, and an APU installed in the rear. A modified wing with improved flaps was also included to meet FAA requirements. However TWA later cancelled its order due to financial problems, and by the time they were ready to purchase new designs, the Douglas DC-9 was available. Only a single Caravelle 10A was ever built.
Caravelle 10B (Super Caravelle)
Based on the Series 10A, this variant offered many modifications in respect to other series. It introduced the Lex or "Leading Edge Extension" (a fillet added to the front of an aircraft wings in order to provide usable airflow at high angles of attack). The wing mounted split flaps and the fuselage was extended 1.40 m (4 ft 7 in) , with an increase in passenger capacity to 105. The engines used were the new Pratt & Whitney JT8D turbofan engines with 6,350 kgf (62,300 N; 14,000 lbf) of unitary thrust which would later be used by the famous DC-9 and Boeing 727 instead of the General Electric models. Turbofans were first used in commercial aviation in 1960, in the Soviet Tupolev Tu-124, mounting the Soloviev D-20P engine. The 10B first flew on August 31, 1964 and was produced as a run of 22 aircraft.
Sales: Primary operator of the 10B was Finnair with 8 examples. Aviaco ordered 5 but this was cancelled, with those aircraft going to Sterling Airways, LTU, and Iberia Airlines. Alia and UTA also acquired aircraft.
Caravelle 10R
A combination of the 10B's engines on the Series VI-R fuselage, creating a smaller but higher powered plane. Maximum weight at take-off was increased to 52,000 kg (110,000 lb) (6,000 kg or 13,000 lb more than the Series I and 2,000 kg or 4,400 lb more than the Series VI-R). It first flew on January 8, 1965 and received the FAA certification on May 23 of that same year.
Sales: 20 were built, starting service with Alia on July 31, 1965. It also flew with Aero Lloyd, CTA, Hispania and SAT, among others.
Caravelle 11R
The 11R had a fuselage length of 31.72 m (104 ft 1 in) (70 cm or 28 in more than other variants) and incorporated a 3.32 m × 1.84 m (10.9 ft × 6.0 ft) cargo door in the port side. This enabled it to carry a mixed load of passengers and cargo. First flight of the series 11R was on April 21, 1967.
sales: Only 6 planes were built and delivered to Air Afrique, Air Congo, and Transeuropa of Spain.

One of the last Caravelles built, flying with Air Inter
One of the last Caravelles built, flying with Air Inter
Caravelle 12 (Super Caravelle)
This was the last version of the Caravelle to appear, the most advanced of them all which first flew on March 12, 1971. The Series 12 was a 10B with a noticeably longer fuselage, stretched by 3.2 metres (10 ft), and a newer uprated version of the JT8D engines with 6,577 kgf (64,500 N; 14,500 lbf) of unitary thrust. This allowed for up to 140 passengers over a reduced range. The 12 was aimed primarily at the charter market, produced to 12 examples starting in 1972. By this point a worldwide famous Supersonic transport was in production known as the Concorde, whose design was first known in France as Sud Aviation Super-Caravelle. The 12 was often referred to by this name.
Sales: Launch customer for the Series 12 was Sterling Airways with 7 delivered, while the remaining 5 went to Air Inter. Series 12s flew in Europe until October 1996, and in Africa until recently.


Civil operators

 Central African Republic
 Côte d'Ivoire
 New Caledonia
 Sweden,  Denmark &  Norway
 United States

Military and government operators

 Central African Republic
  • Central African Empire/Republic Government (1970-1979)
  • Chad Government
  • Gabon Government (1976-1978)
  • Mauritanian Government
  • Rwanda Government
  • Sengal Government


  • 12 October 1976: Indian Airlines, Mumbai, India: The right engine caught fire shortly after takeoff and the crew elected to return. Fuel flow to the engine was not stopped and the fire spread through the fuselage and led to hydraulic system failure and a loss of aircraft control shortly before landing. All six crew members and 89 passengers were killed.

Aircraft on display

  • One Caravelle, SE-DAI, is located at the Stockholm Arlanda Airport. The aircraft engines are run regularly to keep all systems working until funds covering a "Grand Visit" (=C-check) can be found. The aircraft is maintained by "Le Caravelle Club" [3]. Ex-Swedish Air Force Tp85 tail number 852. The cabin is restored to civil standard with SAS 1970 seats in a spacious 2+2 configuration.
  • A second Caravelle at Arlanda is owned by "Luftfartsverket", and kept since 1974 for a future museum. The aircraft is in a bad condition but exterior is complete and SAS colors are visible.
  • One Caravelle is outside the Museum of Aviation in Belgrade in Belgrade, Serbia, near the Nikola Tesla International Airport (44°49′11″N 20°17′06″E / 44.8198°N 20.2849°E / 44.8198; 20.2849). The aircraft was from JAT Yugoslav Airlines from some 3-4 decades ago.
  • As of 2001, there was a Caravelle at Le Bourget Aerospace Museum in Paris (48°57′16″N 2°25′21″E / 48.9545°N 2.4225°E / 48.9545; 2.4225).
  • A 1959 Caravelle III, "Finn Viking", SAS reg number LN-KLH is preserved at the Museum of Technology, Oslo, Norway [4].
  • A 1960 Caravelle III, "Ulf Viking", SAS, reg number OY-KRD is preserved at the Danish National Museum of Science and Technology, Helsingør, Denmark.
  • A Sabena Caravelle is located at the Brussels Museum for Aviation.
  • A former United Airlines Caravelle, in Airborne Express livery, is parked at the New England Air Museum, Windsor Locks, Connecticut, USA.
  • One Caravelle is located along the eastern perimeter of Nice airport (43°40′24″N 7°13′38″E / 43.6732°N 7.2271°E / 43.6732; 7.2271). Close by is the monument to the September 1968 accident when a Caravelle crashed with the loss of all on board.
  • One Caravelle in good condition is located in Makedonia Airport, Thessaloniki Greece.
  • N98KT, a Caravelle VI-R, is parked at Van Nuys Airport in Van Nuys (near Los Angeles), California.
  • N1001U, c/n 86, the first production Caravelle VI-R, is preserved at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
  • An unidentified Caravelle model is located at the Pima Community College Aviation Technology Center, Tucson Arizona. (N1002U c/n 87?)
  • Another preserved ex-Air France aircraft sits besides the tower at Avignon Airport in southern France.
  • The Aircraft Museum of Montelimar in Southern France has a French ex-military Caravelle. Visitors can climb inside.
  • Istanbul Aviation Museum gives shelter for an ex-Istanbul Airlines Caravelle.
  • A Caravelle aircraft used for microgravity flights is parked at Bordeaux-Merignac airport.
  • A Caravelle is parked at Satolas, near Lyons' St. Exupery International (LYS) airport. 45°43′42″N 5°04′49″E / 45.7284°N 5.0804°E / 45.7284; 5.0804
  • Swedish Air Force Museum in Linköping cares for one Caravelle III (serial number 172). Ex-Swedish Air Force Tp85 tail number 851. Ex-SAS reg. SE-DAG. Its current location is on the "Malmen" air base outside of Linköping, Sweden. It is being stored outdoors and the long-term plan is to restore it for display in the configuration in which it was used by the air force (signal reconnaissance).
  • Two Caravelles are stored at the Royal Air Maroc training facilities at Mohammed V International Airport in Casablanca. Registrations are CN-CCZ [5] which seems in a slightly better condition, and CN-CCX [6]. Both have been used for training purposes. One of them, CN-CCZ, briefly appears in the 2008 German movie "Mogadischu".


Data from

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Capacity: 80 (I,IA,III,VI-R,VI-N,10R); 89-99 (11R); 105 (10A); 140 (12)
  • Payload: 8.4 t (III); 7.9 t (VI-N); 8.2 t (VI-R); 9.4 t (10R); 9.1 t (11R) (9.3 short tons (III); 8.7 sT (VI-N); 9.0 sT (VI-R); 10.4 sT (10R); 10.0 sT (11R))
  • Length: 31.01 m (I,IA,III,VI-N,VI-R,10R); 32.71 m (10R); 33.01 m (10A); 36.24 m (12) (101.7 ft (I,IA,III,VI-N,VI-R,10R); 107.3 ft (10R); 108.3 ft (10A); 118.9 ft (12))
  • Wingspan: 34.3 m (112 ft 6 in)
  • Height: 8.72 m (I,IA,III,VI-N,VI-R,10A.11R); 9.02 m (12) (28.61 ft (I,IA,III,VI-N,VI-R,10A.11R); 29.59 ft (12))
  • Wing area: 146.7 m² (1,579 sq ft)
  • Airfoil: Swept wing at 1/4 of the chord line: 20º
  • Empty weight: 22.2 t (III); 24.9 t (VI-N); 26.3 t (VI-R); 26.7 t (10R); 28.8 t (11R); 29.5 t (12) (24.5 sT (III); 27.4 sT (VI-N); 29.0 sT (VI-R); 29.4 sT (10R); 31.7 sT (11R); 32.5 sT (12))
  • Max takeoff weight: 46 t (III); 48 t (VI-N); 50 t (VI-R); 52 t (10R,11R); 58 t (12) (III: 50.7 sT; VI-N: 52.9 sT; VI-R: 55.1 sT; 10R,11R: 57.3 sT; 12: 63.9 sT;)
  • Powerplant:Rolls-Royce Avon or Pratt & Whitney JT8D turbojet


  • Maximum speed: 805 km/h (III); 845 km/h (VI-N, VI-R); 800 km/h (10R,11R) (500 mph/435 knots (III); 525 mph/456 knots (VI-N, VI-R); 497 mph/432 knots (10R,11R))
  • Range: 1,700 km (III); 2,350 km (VI-N); 2,300 km (VI-R,11R); 3,455 km (10R); 3,465 km (12) (920 nmi/1,060 mi (III); 1,270 nmi/1,460 mi (VI-N); 1,240 nmi/1,430 mi (VI-R,11R); 1,866 nmi/2147 mi (10R); 1,871 nmi/2,153 mi (12))
  • Service ceiling: 12,000 m (39,370 ft)

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists

External links

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Published - July 2009

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