The 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
). It is generally considered to be the first truly successful jet
airliner design, as the earlier De Havilland Comet had suffered a
series of in-flight break-ups that led to it being withdrawn from
service, and the Avro Jetliner was cancelled due to over commitment.
The Caravelle would go on to be one of the most successful jetliners
for a number of years, sold throughout Europe and even a run of 20 in
the United States.
On October 12 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 1000 kg of cargo on routes up to 2000 km with a cruise speed about
600 km/h. The type and number of engines wasn't 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, with 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 prop liners. Proposals from the SNCA du
Sud-Ouest included the S.O.60 with two Rolls-Royce Avon RA.7 engines,
with two smaller Turbomeca Marbores as auxiliaries. SNCA du Sud-Est
returned a number of designs from the X-200 to X-210, all of them
After studying the various entries, the Comité du Matériel Civil cut
the list to three entrants on March 28 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 lb (40 kN) thrust, making the auxiliary
engines on the S.O.60 and the third engine on the X-210 unnecessary.
The Comite 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 weren't 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 July 6 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 Comet, while the rest of the
plane was locally designed.
The first prototype was rolled out on April 21 1955, and flew on May
27, the second followed a year later on May 6 1956. The first prototype
had a cargo door on the lower left side of the fuselage, but this was
removed 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 air shows and demonstrations to potential customers.
The Caravelle was certified in May 1959 and entered shortly after
service with SAS and AF.
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 total 279 Caravelles of all types were build, with Sud Aviation's
break-even point at the 200 mark. The Caravelle was thus the first
airliner design to make a clear profit, something that would not be
matched again until the 1970s.
World Airline Fleets News reported in September 2004 that the last
operational Caravelle, a model 11R, registration 3D-KIK, was lost when
it crashed at Gisenyi airport, Rwanda on 28 August 2004. It was flying
from Kinshasa to Goma in the DR Congo when for unknown reasons it
attempted to land at the neighbouring Gisenyi airport, whose runway was
too short for the aircraft.
Caravelle 10B - Two 64.4kN (14,500lb) Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9 turbofans.
Earlier Caravelle versions (Mk I, IA, III and VI) were powered by two
48.9 to 56.0kN (11,000 to 12,600lb) thrust class Rolls-Royce RA.29 Avon
Caravelle 10B - Max cruising speed 825km/h (445kt). Range with max
payload 2650km (1450nm), range with max fuel 3640km (1965nm).
10B - Operating empty 30,055kg (66,260lb), max takeoff 56,000kg
Earlier series Avon powered versions max takeoff weights range from
46,000kg (101,413lb) for the Mk III to 50,000kg (110,230lb) for the Mk
Caravelle 10B - Wing span 34.30m (112ft 6in), length 33.01m (108ft
3.5in), height 8.72m (28ft 7in). Wing area 146.7m2 (1579sq ft).
Caravelle Mks I, IA, III and VI same except for length 32.01m (105ft
Caravelle 12 featured 3.21m (10ft 7in) fuselage stretch over the
Caravelle 10 - Flightcrew of two pilots and one flight engineer. Max
passengers 100 at five abreast in a high density layout. Typical
accommodation for 91 passengers in a mixed class arrangement. Maximum
payload 9100kg (20,600lb).
282 production Caravelles built between 1958 and 1972.