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Sud Caravalle

By Patrick Mondout

France's entry to the great jet race of the 1950s was the Sud Aviation S.E. 210 Caravelle. It was the first short to medium range jet and the first to have engines in the rear which had the benefit of cutting down engine noise for passengers). Announced in January 1953, the Caravelle became the third jet prototype to fly after the Comet and the Boeing Dash-80 on May 27, 1955.

Air France with 12 orders and 12 options to buy and SAS became the launch customers with orders later that year. The first of the Sud (which had became Aérospatiale by 1957) Caravelles was put into service by SAS on April 26, 1959.

An order for 20 from the American airline United in 1960 provided false hope to the French as it proved to be the only such major order. Even the Caravelle coupled with General Electric engines failed to excited the Americans, now committed to fleets of 737s and DC-9s for such routes.

A number of revisions of the aircraft, including ones with longer fuselages and quieter, more efficient engines, graced the skies in the 60s and Super70s. The final Super Caravelle was produced in 1973 and flew with Air Inter.

S.E. 210 Caravelle

F-BOHA, an Air France Caravelle seen in Sweden, August 1978.

Image courtesy of AirNikon. Find more of his photos at

The aircraft cannot meet today's environmental standards and no upgrade kits exist for the few aircraft that remain. Thus, you can only see them in flight in places like South America and Africa.

Sud Caravalle at a Glance
Engines2 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7 Turbofans
Cruising Speed512
Span112ft 6in
Length108ft 3.5in
Height28ft 7in
Final Production1973
Mesurements refer to SE 210 Caravelle 10B


Share Your Memories!

What do you remember about the Sud Caravalle? Were you a member of the flight crew on one? Have you any interesting stories to share? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"Finnair was one of the airlines using the Caravelle with more efficient engines than the originals. The Super Caravelle had lots of legroom, but the cabin was narrow, range too short and cargo space inadequate, so they were finally abandoned for DC-9:s. Shame in a way. . . the aerodynamics and handling were great.

I flew as passenger Helsinki-Hamburg and back and also to Gothenburg. The landings were the best ever. . You couldn´t notice if the plane was still in the air or already on the ground. The Finnair crew used to get applauded each time. That changed when the DC-9:s arrived. They landed with a thud compaired with the Caravelle. But, finally, economics is what counts. Too bad for a great airplane aerodynamic design."

--Ilkka M, Helsinki

"I have made a few flights aboard the Caravelle, mainly on SAS's Copenhagen/Århus Tirstrup route during the early Super70s. A very unique aircraft identical but smaller than the DC-9 with five across seating. The difference was its triangular windows and its strangely-placed tail. Although it employs the same Pratt & Whitney engines used on the DC-9, Boeing 727 and early 737, it has no thrust reversers. When it lands a drag chute is deployed to slow it down. However, this airliner is a milestone for being the first jetliner with the engines mounted aft when it went into production back in the late 50s."

--Harald A.



Image courtesy Swissair

Model: Caravalle

Manufacturer: Sud

Country: France

First Flight: May 27, 1955

First Passenger Flight: April 26, 1959

Launch CustomerAir France

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