SPAD (Société Pour L'Aviation et ses Dérivés) was a French aircraft manufacturer active between 1911 and 1921. Its SPAD S.XIII biplane was the most popular French fighter airplane in World War I.

The company was set up in 1911 as Aéroplanes Deperdussin, becoming the Société de Production des Aéroplanes Deperdussin in 1912. Its founder Armand Deperdussin (born 1867) had been a travelling salesman and a cabaret singer in Liège and Brussels, before making his fortune in the silk business. Deperdussin became fascinated by aviation in 1908, and in 1909 he established an aircraft works at Laon. Deperdussin himself was not a designer, but he hired the talented engineer Louis Béchereau (1880–1970) as technical director. Béchereau would be responsible for Deperdussin and SPAD aircraft designs thereafter.

The first Deperdussin aircraft was an unsuccessful canard, but their next aircraft, the Type A, was an immediate success, and led to a series of closely related monoplanes. Similar to Louis Blériot's Blériot XI, and the Nieuport 4, this was a layout popular with both military and civilian clients in the period before the First World War. The Deperdussin TT was a considerable export success, and 63 were built by the Lebedev company in Russia. The model was purchased in small numbers by foreign clients, and Deperdussin aircraft were also built at Highgate in London by the British Deperdussin Company, run by D Lawrence Santoni and John Cyril Porte.  From 1911 Deperdussin was produced their aircraft from a new factory at Grenelle in the suburbs of Paris.

They also established factories at Le Havre and Juvisy to build motor boats and waterplanes, as well as three flying schools.

The company also produced a number of notable racing aircraft, including the groundbreaking Deperdussin Monocoque, which won the 1912 and 1913 Gordon Bennett Trophy races, set several world speed records and was the first airplane to exceed 200 km/h (120 mph). The first Schneider Trophy competition, held on 16 April 1913 at Monaco, was won by a Deperdussin floatplane at an average speed of 45.75 mph (about 73 km/h).

In 1913, Armand Deperdussin was arrested on charges of fraud. He had developed expensive tastes, and, in addition to funding competitions such as the Gordon Bennett Cup, he entertained lavishly. The trading arm of the Comptoir Industrial et Colonial bank claimed that he funded this by fraudulently borrowing from them using forged receipts from his silk business as security.  He remained incarcerated until he was brought to trial in 1917. Although it was claimed that he used much of the money to develop France's aviation expertise, he was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison, but as a concession for first offenders he was reprieved ("sursis") and released immediately.  Deperdussin never recovered from the incident and committed suicide in 1924.

Source: Wikipedia