Facebook has announced that its internet providing, unmanned aircraft Aquila landed successfully after a flight that lasted one hour and 46 minutes. The social media giant has been testing its solar-powered drone for past couple of years. Aquila underwent a full scale flight for the first time in June 2016 which lasted 96 minutes. The flight ended with a crash while Aquila was attempting to land back on ground.
The accident evoked an investigation by the US government which found out that the plane crashed while landing due to windy conditions. Facebook introduced several changes to the drone to improve its flight hours and maneuverability. The updated drone has new spoilers attached to the wings that increase the drag and reduce lift while landing. It also has a horizontal propeller to stop the plane while landing.
The aircraft even has better flight results since it gained altitude twice as fast the first flight. Aquila reached a maximum altitude of 3000 feet and ascended at a rate of 180 ft per minute.
Although a successful landing is a step closer to Facebook's initiative of providing internet via drones, the enterprise has a lot more to go before it can successfully launch its ambitious project.
Facebook mentioned in a blog post,"We flew lengthy test points at constant speed, heading, and altitude to measure the airplane's drag The data from these 'trim shots,' as they're called, will be used to refine our aerodynamic models, which help us predict the energy usage and thus optimize for battery and solar array size."
Once fully functional, Aquila is supposed to fly continuously for 30 days and provide internet to a 60 miles radius area.