From SNCASE to Airbus

SNCASE 1936-1956

In 1936 the French government decided to unite regionally some aircraft factories which were in poor economic situation. CAMS, Lioré-Olivier, Potez and SPCA were merged into Société Nationale de Constructions Aéronautiques du Sud Est (SNCASE), the “south-eastern aviation industry”. In 1941 SNCAM, i.e. Dewoitine was merged into the company. During WWII the company was a subcontractor for the German aircraft industry.

After WWII the company specialized in helicopters and passenger aircraft. One of the best-known examples of the helicopter production is the Alouette II helicopter, which has been in use also in Finland.

In 1952 the French civil aviation committee decided about the production of a passenger aircraft, based on the SNCASE’s suggestion X-210, which was named Caravelle. The first prototype flew its maiden flight on May 27th, 1955.

Sud Aviation 1957-1969

In 1957 the SNCASE was merged with SNCASO, i.e. the “south-western aviation industry”, which had earlier been formed of small aircraft factories, such as Bleriot and Bloch. The new company was named Sud Aviation.

The best-known aircraft type of Sud Aviation was the Caravelle, but the company continued its helicopter production and took part in a joint venture with BAC to create the Concorde.

Aérospatiale 1970-1999

In 1970 Sud Aviation merged with Nord Aviation and SÉREB company and the result was the Aérospatiale aircraft factory. This factory production included fixed wing and rotating wing aircraft and also missiles and space technology.

In 1992 the helicopter production of Aérospatiale was merged with the helicopter production of Daimler-Benz Aerospace (DASA) into Eurocopter Group. The company became Airbus Helicopters in 2014.

Airbus 2000-

In 1999 Aérospatiale merged (excluding satellites) with Matra into Aérospatiale-Matra, which in turn merged already in 2000 with the German Daimler Chrysler Aerospace and the Spanish CASA to form the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS). The company is better known as Airbus Group.


When jet engines were available for commercial aircraft during the 1950s, the airlines were in a new situation. Jet airliners created a new competing situation and forced airlines to modernize their fleet. In the late 1950s the Scandinavian airline SAS (Scandinavian Airline System) was in this situation; to take part in the competition it had to purchase jet airliners. For long-distance routes the choice was Douglas DC-8. However, in the late 1950s there were no alternatives meant for shorter routes. SAS investigated the possibility to order turbo-propeller aircraft, such as the British Vicker Viscount. But the technical development was heading towards jet airliners.
The French Sud-Aviation SE 210 Caravelle solved the problem. The development of the aircraft type had been started in the early years of the 1950s and the prototype flew its maiden flight in 1955. In the middle of the decade the twin-engine Caravelle was an interesting aircraft type, Air France ordered its first aircraft in 1956. In June 1957 SAS was the first foreign airline to order Caravelles. The first order included six aircraft and an option for 19 additional aircraft. Six aircraft were ordered the following year. In all SAS ordered and operated 20 Caravelles. The SAS order opened the interest of foreign airlines and orders were written at a growing pace, including the order of three aircraft by Aero Oy (Finnair). SAS received its first Caravelle in spring 1959 and the first route operation was started in April 1959.

In February 1962 SAS received its fifteenth Caravelle, its production number was 112. It was a Caravelle III version, and it got the registration SE-DAF. The first SAS Caravelles were version I/IA and all of the first Caravelles had Rolls Royce Avon jet engines. When the new Avon Mk.527 version, with the new jet exhaust nozzle, was available the Caravelle III was born. All Caravelle I/IA aircraft were modified into Caravelle III, which in practice meant that the engine was replaced with the new model. This modification was also done in the first three Aero Oy Caravelles, the fourth one was a Caravelle III from the beginning.


Sud Aviation SE 210 Caravelle III with the frame number 112 was completed for the Scandinavian Airlines System on February 17th 1962. The aircraft was registered SE-DAF and named Sven Viking, after king Sven Forkbeard, who lived 960-1014. From 985 he was the king of Denmark and from 1013 also the king of England, and he died on February 3rd 1014 in Gainsborough.
SE-DAF flew on the short and medium long routes in the SAS fleet until 1974, when it was replaced with Douglas DC-9 aircraft. The aircraft flew its last flight on September 23rd 1974, it was removed from service and stored at the Arlanda airport in December to wait to be placed in an aviation museum. The museum where the SE-DAF would have been placed was never established.

In May 2020 Finnish Aviation Museum Society was asked if they were interested in having the aircraft. The aircraft had been standing at Arlanda for 46 years and the alternative for it was scrapping. On February 4th 2021 Swedish National Maritime and Transport Museums and Aviation Museum Society Finland signed an agreement that the aircraft is transferred to the possession of Aviation Museum Society Finland.

SE-DAF is taking off in the 1960s. Photo: SAS via Wikimedia Commons.

Claudia Cardinale meets a clown on the stairs of SE-DAF Sven Viking at the Schiphol airport on December 16th, 1964. Photo: Jack van Nijs via Wikimedia Commons.

SE-DAF Sven Viking in April 1966. Photo: Lars Söderström via Wikimedia Commons.

SE-DAF on the left in this photo taken at the Fornebu airport in 1971, with also SAS DC-8 and DC-9 and Finnair Super Caravelle OH-LSF Pori. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In the beginning of the 21st century SE-DAF was still in SAS colours. The photo was taken on July 21st 2004. Photo: Peter Bakema via Wikimedia Commons.

SE-DAF Sven Viking photographed on August 26th 2007. Photo: Alan Lebeda via Wikimedia Commons.

SE-DAF Sven Viking photographed on April 12th 2011. Photo: Juha Klemettinen

The badly faded colours haven’t been a good advertisement for SAS for a long time. Photo: Juha Klemettinen

In the late 2010s SE-DAF lost its name and the SAS emblems. The appearance was refreshed. Photo: Ulf Nyström

SE-DAF at Arlanda on November 3rd 2020. Photo: Anders Melin

SE-DAF has lost some of its instruments during the years. Photo: Anders Melin

Le Caravelle Club will take some parts from the cabin before SE-DAF is handed over to Aviation Museum Society Finland. Photo: Anders Melin

Existing Caravelles

Caravelle -koneita Pohjoismaissa

In the Nordic countries some Caravelles have been preserved. In addition to the complete aircraft, there is a Caravelle nose part and cockpit training device in Finland.

SE-DAF which was transferred from the Swedish National Maritime and Transport Museums to the possession of Aviation Museum Society Finland. It is now waiting to be dismantled and transported to Finland. Photo: Anders Melin​.

At the Swedish Air Force Museum in Linköping there is a former SAS Caravelle III SE-DAG (frame number 172) which was used for signals intelligence by the air force. Photo: Alan Wilson via Wikimedia Commons.

Le Caravelle Club’s SE-DAI (frame number 201) has been restored and is now at Arlanda airport. Photo: Juha Klemettinen

LN-KLH Finn Viking (frame number 3) at at the Norwegian Science and Technology Museum in Oslo. Photo: Håkon Bergseth & Lars Opdahl NTM via Visitoslo.no

OY-KRD Ulf Viking (fuselage number 47) at the Danish Museum of Science and Technology in Helsingør. Photo: Reino Myllymäki

Caravelles in Central Europe

Some Caravelles which are located in the museums in Central Europe are mentioned here. There are some others, too.

Former Finnair OH-LED Sinipiika (frame number 116) as the French Air Force reconnaissance aircraft F-ZACE is on display at the museum at Montelimar. Photo: via montelimar-tourisme.com

Sabena’s OO-SRA is a Caravelle VI-N (frame number 64) and it is on display at the Brussels War Museum. Photo: Reino Myllymäki

Finnair’s Caravelles

Aero Oy:llä (vuodesta 1968 Finnair) on historiansa aikana ollut käytössään viisitoista Sud Aviation Caravelle -yksilöä, joista kolme on ollut vuokralla. Finnair käytti Caravelle-kalustoa vuosina 1960-1983.

Finnair’s Caravelle III aircraft

On January 18th 1958 Aero Oy ordered three Sud Aviation Caravelle IA aircraft, which were put into operation inn 1960. In 1961 OH-LEA “Sinilintu” (Bluebird), OH-LEB “Sinisiipi” (Blue wing) and OH-LEC “Sininuoli” (Blue arrow) were modified into Caravelle III aircraft. In 1962 a fourth Caravelle III was purchased and named OH-LED “Sinipiika” (Blue maid). In 1960 Aero was the first airline in the world to certify its aircraft for a cockpit crew consisting of two pilots.
The new jet airliner type moved Convair 440 Metropolitan piston engine aircraft on the domestic routes. The Caravelle was faster and more quiet, and it had more space – it managed to improve the travelling comfort and connections of the Finnish companies as well as private persons. The speed meant also that charter flights could be flown to holiday destinations during the night without disturbing the daily scheduled routes.

The Caravelle III fleet opened the doors for Finnair into the jet age travelling. The aircraft type was in use a short period, until 1964, when all four aircraft were sold back to the manufacturer as a remission for the purchase of six new Sud Aviation 10B3 Caravelle aircraft. This was the first time Aero used this procedure, which was to become a rule rather than an exception during the coming years.

Finnair’s Super Caravelles

On December 4th 1962 Aero Oy ordered six model 10B3 Super Caravelle aircraft and was the first client to do so. Five of the aircraft were supposed to be delivered in 1964 and the sixth in 1965, but the deliveries were delayed, because of the metal industry strike in France among other things. This is why the factory lent Aero one model VI-R Caravelle for 3,5 months in 1964. It operated with the Finnish registration OH-LER. The six first Super Caravelles were registered OH-LSA, -LSB, -LSC, -LSD, -LSE and -LSF. Two additional aircraft were ordered in December 1965 and they were delivered in 1967. They got the registration OH-LSG and -LSH.
In addition to eight own Super Caravelle aircraft, Finnair rented another two aircraft during the years 1975-1976. In the Finnair fleet they were registered OH-LSI and -LSK.

In Finnair the Super Caravelle was used with a cabin lay-out with either 12 first class and 70 tourist class seats or 95 tourist class seats. The maximum capacity was 107 passengers.

In 1983 Finnair gave up its Super Caravelle fleet.

Finnair’s Caravelles today

All of the first three Caravelle IA/III aircraft have been scrapped. However, the fourth one ended up in reconnaissance use and it has been preserved. It is on display at Musée Européen de L’Aviation De Chasse in Montelimar, France and bears the colours of the French air force and the registration F-ZACE.

Seven of the eight Super Caravelles have been scrapped. From this lot the nose part of the OH-LSC is used as a clubhouse at the L’Altiport de Corlier airport in France. As far as we know, the OH-LSH has been preserved, it bears the registration HK-3836 and is located in an aquapark in Mexico.
Both of the two Super Caravelles which were used by Finnair for a short time have been scrapped.

The model VI-R OH-LER which was used by Finnair for a few months in 1964 may still be found on the edge of the Benina airfield in Libya, where it has been waiting for its fate since 1975.