65 years ago, the 1st Sud Aviation Caravelle took off

Exactly 65 years ago, the 1st flight of the Sud Aviation Caravelle took place. Prototype F-WHHH, came out of her hangar in all her glory, ready to expand her wings and fly away. Only 6 days before, she had been christened by Madame de Gaulle, the wife of the largely unpopular French president, Charles de Gaulle. A year later, the 2nd Caravelle made her maiden flight, before the type received its first order, later in the year, from Air France. Although only 282 Caravelles were produced, it still shows at what point the French aviation industry was capable of doing on its own. But there were several elements that didn’t make it as successful as its main competitors, the Douglas DC-9 and the Boeing 737, which came 10 years later: the plane was ridiculously unreliable, with 67 withdrawn and over 1300 lives lot (maybe I was wrong about how technically advanced the French aviation industry was); the aircraft’s operating costs were way too high for the amount of passengers that it carried (80-89, for most models); it was made for the wrong market, at the wrong time, because air travel in Europe was nowhere near as developped and popular as in the USA. Still, the Caravelle remains an intruiging “soufflé” in the aviation industry, albeit an unsuccessful one. 27th of May 2020.


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