The National Transportation Safety Board is looking into Facbeook’s Aquila after the drone experienced a “structural failure” during its first test flight this summer.
According to a report from Bloomberg, the incident occurred while Aquila, which has a wingspan comparable to that of a Boeing 747, was coming in for a landing in Yuma, Ariz. during the test flight June 28. A NTSB spokesman told Bloomberg the failure was classified as an accident, which signifies “substantial” damage to the craft. There was no damage on the ground, however. The investigation, until now, has been kept quite.
Facebook, in a July 21 post to announce the test flight, did not mention the incident. Instead, it called the test a “big milestone toward connecting billions of people.” The post went on in glowing terms, adding that the low-altitude flight “was so successful” Aquila was flown for more than 90 minutes — three times longer than originally planned.
The malfunction was mentioned briefly near the end of a post on Facebook’s engineering blog: “We are still analyzing the results of the extended test, including a structural failure we experienced just before landing,” the post reads. “We hope to share more details on this and other structural tests in the future. To prove out the full capacity of the design, we will continue to push the plane to its limits under more extreme conditions in a lengthy series of tests.”
Aquila, the social network’s massive unmanned drone is an important part of Facebook’s plan to bring the Internet to the four billion people worldwide that remain without affordable connections.
Designed by the social media network’s Connectivity Labs, the drone could eventually be used to ensure those who cannot connect through regular means will be able to access their e-mail, surf the Internet and, of course, join and use Facebook.
The National Transportation Safety Board has yet to release any of its findings on what caused the failure.
Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.
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