27th of May, 1955
On this day 66 years ago the Sud Aviation Caravelle made its first flight. The aircraft was powered by two Rolls Royce Avon engine and had design and components that were originally designed for the de Havilland Comet. The history of the Caravelle goes back to 1951 when a specification was published for a medium-range aircraft, A total of 20 different proposals were submitted. In 1952 a shortlist with 3 porposals was published. One of the 3 aircraft on the shortlist was the design by SNCASE (Société nationale des constructions aéronautiques du Sud-Est), the SNCASE X-210
a design with three Rolls Royce Avon engines mounted on the rear fuselage. at about the same time Rolls Royce came up with an improved version of the Avon with
9000 lbf of thrust this was enough to remove one of the engines from the design.
This let to an request for the construction of two flying prototypes and two airframes for fatigue testing. The nose section and the cockpit layout were copies of the de Havilland Comet, SNCASE had a long standing relation with de Havilland and they had worked together on previous projects.
A later version of the Caravelle, the Super Caravelle III, with 11.400 lb thrust Rolls Royce Avon engines
On the 21st of April 1955 the first prototype of what was now the Caravelle rolled out of the factory. Just 6 and a half weeks later this aircraft would make the first flight, lasting 41 minutes, on this day in aviation history. 4 years later the aircraft was certified and on the 16th of April 1959 the first commericial fligth of a Caravelle was performed by the Scandinavian operator SAS. The last flight of a Caravelle was in 2005, 50 years after the first flight.