How high do jetliners fly

First flight of the Caravelle 65 years ago

The aircraft, built by Sud Aviation, lifted its slim fuselage from the runway at 19:15 local time (UTC +3), piloted by Pierre Nadot, the captain, and first officer Andre Moynot. The two were accompanied by Jean Avril, a mechanic, and Roger Beteille, one of the founding fathers of Airbus. The 22-minute flight marked the successful entry of the French aerospace industry into the age of commercial aircraft.

However, the sales campaign was less successful. Despite sales efforts, with Sud Aviation conducting a demonstration tour in the United States in 1957, the company sold only 279 Caravelle cars worldwide. Three other prototypes were built for test purposes but never delivered to customers.

Range and capacities were not enough for potential customers

Perhaps the biggest slump was the fact that the jet was specifically designed for the short and mid-range markets. Carrying 80 passengers in a standard configuration was not particularly attractive to potential customers. In addition, five and six years later, the Boeing 727 and the Douglas DC-9, respectively, were put into service - similar machines, but with improved capacity and range.

First European to operate in the USA

Nevertheless, Sud Aviation Caravelle was a pioneer. It was the first aircraft with engines on the rear of the fuselage. And the first European jetliner to be sold to a US airline. United Airlines procured 20 aircraft, possibly laying the foundation for other European aircraft manufacturers to sell their aircraft on the other side of the Atlantic.

First Swissair jet
The Sud Aviation SE 210 III Caravelle was the first jet aircraft operated by Swissair. On September 4, 1963, a fully occupied Swissair Caravelle crashed near Dürrenäsch. All 80 inmates were killed.