Facebook’s Solar Powered Drone “Aquila” Completes its Second Flight Test

by June 30, 2017 0 comments

Facebook’s solar powered drone “Aquila” that will beam the internet to remote parts of the world completed second successful flight.

The aircraft flew for one hour and 46 minutes and landed perfectly on the prepared landing site.

“During the second flight, the launch speed of the drone was calculated to be at 27 mph. It rose to 3,000 feet, at a rate of 180 ft/min — a climb rate that was nearly twice as that of the first test flight,” said Martin Luis Gomez, Director of Aeronautical Platforms at Facebook in a blog post.

By design, Aquila does nothing fast, rather it climbs slowly, descends even slower, and when flying upwind moves only at 10-15 mph over the ground.

Aquila was designed this way because it is meant to stay in the same area for long periods of time to supply internet access.

According to Gomez, this second flight was all about data and they flew lengthy test points at a constant speed, heading, and altitude to measure the airplane’s drag.

The data from these “trim shots,” as they are 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.

Throughout the flight, the company also continued to verify the drag created by new “spoilers” that were added to Aquila at various angles.

Spoilers are movable surfaces on the wing of an aircraft that help create drag to reduce speed and decrease lift. Later they also tested the two-radio links’ signal strength from various aspect angles.

“In the coming months, we’re excited to take the lessons from our successful second flight to continue the Aquila program’s progress to help bring the world closer together through connectivity,” added Gomez.

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