Ah, that’s a shame in a Facebook blog post, Facebook’s Director of Engineering Yael Maguire has announced the cancellation of Aquila, a British design created for Facebook in Bridgewater by some of the folks that created Zephyr.

Facebook is now teaming with Airbus, the company that bought Zephyr.

So, slow and steady wins the race, the only people with a persistent high altitude communications platform now are Google in the form of Project Loon.

One bit stood out in Yael’s post for me.

As we’ve worked on these efforts, it’s been exciting to see leading companies in the aerospace industry start investing in this technology too — including the design and construction of new high-altitude aircraft. Given these developments, we’ve decided not to design or build our own aircraft any longer, and to close our facility in Bridgwater. Going forward, we’ll continue to work with partners like Airbus on HAPS connectivity generally, and on the other technologies needed to make this system work, like flight control computers and high-density batteries. On the policy front, we’ll be working on a proposal for 2019 World Radio Conference to get more spectrum for HAPS, and we’ll be actively participating in a number of aviation advisory boards and rule-making committees in the US and internationally.

Not only HAPS need protected spectrum but the rest of the RPA world does as well. It is very much the elephant in the room.

Back to Aquila, sUAS News actually had a friend on site for the first flight and as such, we knew the first flight did not include a landing.  To my knowledge, it has only had one other outing.

A great pity for the Bridgewater team, but Westcountry blood survives in the Facebook effort in the form of Zephyr.

No other HAP has been as successful (if you discount Loon)

I wondering if the upcoming Farnborough airshow will contain a big announce from Facebook and Airbus.

By Gary Mortimer

Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.