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Facebook drone Aquila set to rise again.


Graham Warwick of AvWeek reports that the Somerset designed Aquila is being prepared to fly again. Once you realised there was no triumphant landing, hand shaking hugging and whooping in the first flight video, it was obvious something had gone wrong.

We reached out and caught the word from Yuma the next day. The NTSB finished their report in December of 2016.

I am sure the next tests will be successful, higher longer and with slightly less fanfare.

What is being attempted is difficult, the lower atmosphere risky for a machine designed to spend the bulk of its life high above the weather.

If I were a betting man, I might suggest that they will have a crack at beating the current duration record. That is held by the QinetiQ Zephyr which flew for 336 hours and 22 minutes in 2010. Zephyr is now owned by Airbus Space and Defence and part of their High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS). The UK military has bought at least three Zephyr 8 variants, and I suppose they might never apply to Guinness for any further records.

Aquila’s purpose in life is to connect more people to the internet. People in places other internet service providers just can’t reach.

Google’s X is also in the race to provide the internet in hard to reach places. They recently canned their Titan platform but still have the ever more probable Project Loon in the mix.

Might I suggest hanging some cameras off the platforms as well to gather lower altitude higher resolution images than current satellites? Facebook could gather brontobytes of data and beam it home. This would very much make Aquila a HAPS.

Time to keep half an eye on Flightradar 24.


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