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Sud-Est S.E.210 Caravelle

Updated: Jan 16


Former Sabena Caravelle VIN OO-SRA on display at the Brussels Air Museum in June 2018

Société Nationale de Construction Aéronautique (SNCA) du Sud-Est was formed in 1936 by the nationalisation of Loiré-et-Olivier, Romano and Société Provençale de Constructions Aéronautiques; SNCA du Midi, previously Dewoitine, was added in 1941. With its Languedoc and Armagnac airliners already in production, Sud-Est responded to a 1951 French Government specification for a medium-range airliner capable of carrying up to 65 passengers and 1,000 kg of cargo at speeds of up to 600 km/h on routes from France to North Africa. Initially conceived with three engines, the availability of more powerful Avon turbojets led to the adoption of the then-novel layout of one engine mounted on each side of the rear fuselage. Sud-Est saved on development costs by using the nose and cockpit sections from the De Havilland Comet. The French Government placed a contract for two prototypes on 2 July 1953, with the first production order coming from Air France on 3 February 1956, for 12 aircraft. By the time the second production order was received (in June 1957 - 6 aircraft for Scandinavian Airlines System) and production launched, Sud-Est had been merged with SNCA du Sud-Ouest to become Sud Aviation. Shortly before this, prototype 02 participated in a North American tour, resulting in a marketing arrangement with Republic Aircraft and an order for 20 Caravelles from United Air Lines. A highly anticipated order from Trans World Airlines led to a change in the transatlantic partner to Douglas, but the order was not forthcoming (TWA selected the Boeing 727 instead) and the arrangement with Douglas was allowed to lapse. Despite this setback, Caravelle production continued steadily for a further 10 years. The last active Caravelle, operational in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was retired in July 2005.

First flight: 27 May 55 (c/n 01, F-WHHH)

Production: 282, at Toulouse-Blagnac

First delivery: 2 Apr 59, to Air France (c/n 1, F-BHRA)

Last delivery: 16 Mar 73, to Air Inter (c/n 280, F-BTOE)

Variants: Caravelle – prototype airliner powered by 2 Rolls-Royce Avon RA.26 Mk.521 turbojets, with seating for up to 99 passengers (2 built);

Caravelle I – initial production version with increased weights, powered by Avon RA.29 Mk.522s (20 built, survivors converted to Caravelle III);

Caravelle IA – Caravelle I powered by Avon RA.29 Mk.526s (12 built, all converted to Caravelle III);

Caravelle III - Higher weight version of Caravelle I, with Avon RA.29 Mk.527s (78 built, of which 5 converted to Caravelle VIN and 1 to Caravelle VII; first flight 30 Dec 59);

Caravelle VIN - Increased weight version of Caravelle III with Avon RA.29 Mk.531s (53 built, first flight 10 Sep 60);

Caravelle VIR - Caravelle VIN with Avon RA.29 Mk.532R or Mk.533R with thrust reversers, improved flight deck and larger cockpit windows (56 built, first flight 6 Feb 61);

Caravelle VII - converted Caravelle III powered by General Electric CJ805-23Cs;

Caravelle 10A - stretched fuselage version of Caravelle VII developed for TWA with raised cabin window line, double-slotted flaps and other aerodynamic improvements, and an auxiliary power unit in rear fuselage (1 built, first flight 31 Aug 62);

Caravelle 10B3 - Caravelle 10A powered by Pratt & Whitney JT8D turbofans (22 built, first flight 3 Mar 64);

Caravelle 10R - Caravelle VIR powered by JT8Ds (20 built, first flight 18 Jan 65);

Caravelle 11R - Caravelle 10R with forward cargo door and provision for mixed passenger/freight loads (6 built, first flight 21 Apr 67);

Caravelle 12 - stretched fuselage version of Caravelle 10B3 powered by JT8D-9s, with seating for up to 140 passengers, (12 built, first flight 29 Oct 70).

SE Caravelle survivors
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