June 24, 1961: Caravelle Aircraft Returns from Paris Airshow

  • Published
  • Air Force Flight Test Center

A Sud Caravelle jet airliner returned to the Air Force Flight Test Center following a visit to the Paris Air Show. The aircraft, nicknamed “Santa Maria,” the short-to-medium-haul aircraft spent a year at Edwards Air Force Base undergoing installation and flight testing of two General Electric CJ805-23C aft-fan engines.  On its way to Le Bourget Airport, the Caravelle broke the trans-Atlantic speed record for twin-engine aircraft.

Within four years of entering airliner service, a total of 172 Caravelles were sold to a wide range of operators.  Aviation writer M.G. Douglas attributed the type's favourable early sales record to the effective marketing campaign of performing demonstrations to prospective customers using the two prototypes, as well to the Caravelle having effectively no jet-powered rivals, being the only short-haul jetliner for several years following its introduction.  Several models of the Caravelle were developed and produced over the lifetime of the production run, often in response to the increasing power of the available engines, which allowed higher takeoff weights to be adopted.

By 1963, there were a total of six different versions of the Caravelle in production, designated IIIVI-NVI-R10A10B, and X-BIR.  Of these, the Caravelle III was considered to be the basic version of the airliner, while the other variants featured an increasing number of improvements.  The Caravelle VI-N was equipped with more powerful Avon 531 engines and an additional heat exchanger for the air conditioning, while the Caravelle VI-R, which had come about as a result of demands by U.S. carrier United Airlines, was furnished with thrust reverser-equipped Avon 352s, a revised windscreen design, soundproofing, a new luggage compartment door, and wing spoilers.

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