Sud Aviation was a French aircraft manufacturer, originating from the merger of SNCASE (Société Nationale de Constructions Aéronautiques du Sud Est) and SNCASO (Société Nationale de Constructions Aéronautiques du Sud Ouest) on March 1, 1957. Both companies had, in turn, been formed from smaller privately owned corporations that had been nationalized into six regional design and manufacturing pools just prior to World War II.
SNCASE was building a line of aircraft including the Languedoc airliner and two fighters, the Vampire and Mistral. The Vampire was British design from De Haviland, being built under license; the Mistral used a British jet engine, the Rolls-Royce Nene.
Looking to break out of their limited licencing-based market, in 1951 SNCASE started the design of a new jet powered airliner, which would eventually evolve into the Caravelle. The Caravelle used British engines and the nose and tail design from the De Havilland Comet, but was otherwise a new design. One unique, for the time, 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started in 1958, by which time the market-leading Comet had suffered a series of in-air breakups and had been withdrawn from service. For several years the Caravelle was thus the only production design in the mid-range market, and secured sales all over Europe and even 20 in the United States.
By this point SNCASE had already merged with another of the French nationalized companies, Ouest Aviation (SNCASO), and had formed the new firm of 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 they formed a consoritum with BAC in November 1962 to merge their design and production efforts to create the Concorde.
Sud Aviation merged with Nord Aviation in 1970 to form the Aerospatiale company. They have since formed several large-scale internaltional consortiums, with British Aerospace and MBB to form Airbus, and with the later to form EADS.