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Sud Aviation
Sud Aviation

Sud-Aviation (French pronunciation: [syd avjasjɔ̃], Southern Aviation) was a French state-owned aircraft manufacturer, originating from the merger of Sud-Est (SNCASE, or Société nationale des constructions aéronautiques du sud-est) and Sud-Ouest (SNCASO or Société nationale des constructions aéronautiques du sud-ouest) on March 1, 1957. Both companies had themselves been formed from smaller privately owned corporations that had been nationalized into six regional design and manufacturing pools just prior to World War II. Sud-Est built a line of aircraft including a passenger airliner, the Languedoc, the Alouette series of helicopters, and a fighter, the Mistral. The Mistral was a British De Havilland Vampire built under license. Looking to break out of their limited licensing-based market, in 1951 Sud-Est started the design of a new jet-powered airliner which would eventually evolve into the Caravelle. This aircraft used Rolls-Royce Avon turbojets and the nose and cockpit design were from the De Havilland Comet, but was otherwise a new design. One pioneering feature was the mounting of the engines at the rear fuselage, thereby reducing cabin noise. Production started in 1958, by which time the market-leading Comet had suffered a series of in-air breakups and had been withdrawn from service. The Caravelle did not suffer this design flaw and thus remained the only production jet design in the mid-range market until the launch of the Douglas DC-9, securing a very successful career with sales all over Europe and even a run of 20 in the United States. General Electric turbofans and Pratt & Whitney JT8Ds were used to power later variants, from the GE-powered Caravelle 7, to the longer, short-range Caravelle 12. The Caravelle was by then generally considered as the first successful jetliner. At this point the merger with Sud-Ouest occurred to form Sud Aviation. The new firm then started on the design of a supersonic transport version of the Caravelle, known as the Super-Caravelle. However, the projected cost of the project was so high that Sud Aviation, at the direction of the French and British governments, formed a consortium with BAC in November 1962 to merge their design and production efforts to create the Concorde.

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