The French built Sud Aviation Caravelle was a short to medium range jet airliner, powered by two Rolls-Royce Avon engines. First flying on 27 May 1955, it entered commercial service with SAS on 26 April 1959.

Unique to the Caravelle are its triangular shaped windows. Working on the basis that passengers tend to look down most of the time, it has a wide base and a smaller top. This way less metal was removed from the fuselage, making it stronger.

Caravelle Video

Following on from last weeks video about the Hawker Siddeley Trident, this week we stay in Europe and check out the Sud Aviation Caravelle. This video runs a little over seven minutes and tells all about the United Airlines aircraft.

United was the first airline in the USA to put a twin engine jet into service. To mark this, it was used on their prestige Executive flight between Chicago and New York.

Seating was four abreast and the passengers received a quality meal and finished with cigars. The video has lots of interior and exterior shots and an interesting look at this area of the aircraft’s story.

Australia’s TAA wanted to introduce the Caravelle as their first jet aircraft. They calculated it was £400,000 cheaper to introduce and had 15% lower direct operating costs than the Lockheed Electra. Unfortunately, the Government approved the Electra instead and Australia had to wait until the Boeing 727 in 1964 for domestic jet travel.

Sud Aviation Caravelle Promotional Film

For those wanting more information on the aircraft, there is a twenty minute promotional film on the Sud Aviation Caravelle below. This contains quite a bit of detail on the jet’s production, including water tank testing for fatigue reasons.

Unusually, the French decided on a criciform tail for the Caravelle. What does this mean? It is where the horizontal stabiliser or tailplane is located half way down the fin, rather than on top as on most aircraft with rear mounted powerplants.

Lots of air to air shots of the Air France version are in the flight testing portion of the film. Also shown is the new – for the time – rear stairway, which inspired the same on the Douglas DC-9 and Boeing 727.

Another fun fact about the Caravelle is the nose section, which is the same as that from the de Havilland Comet. Sud Aviation licensed the design from the British company and why not?

Overall Thoughts

The Caravelle is a very pretty plane. With 282 built, it had a long service life, the last one being withdrawn in 2005. There are many aircraft in museums around the world, mainly in Europe and the USA so you can see one if you wish.

Did you ever fly on board a Caravelle? What was it like? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Jon Proctor via Wikimedia Commons.