Drones news

Facebook drone under investigation after 'structural failure'

Facebook drone under investigation after 'structural failure'
Facebook drone under investigation after 'structural failure'. Facebook
<p><strong>Facebook&#39;s drive to digitally connect the whole world may have hit a road bump.</strong></p> <p><strong>The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is reportedly investigating a June accident involving one of Facebook&#39;s massive drones.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>Known as Aquila, the unmanned aircraft is part of Internet.org, Facebook&#39;s at times controversial&nbsp;project to bring internet to remote communities.</strong></p> <p><strong><em>Bloomberg reported</em>&nbsp;that a &quot;structural failure&quot; occurred during the drone&#39;s first test flight on June 28. The NTSB told the outlet the incident occurred at 7:43 a.m. local time near Yuma, Arizona, but caused no damage on the ground.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>The NTSB has been contacted by&nbsp;<em>Mashable</em>&nbsp;for further details and clarification.</strong></p> <p><img alt="Aquila in flight." src="http://i.amz.mshcdn.com/1uf1ftjqkt7o4HiIlcrpTblV3fQ=/fit-in/1200x9600/https%3A%2F%2Fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fuploads%2Fcard%2Fimage%2F292970%2Ffb2.jpg" style="height:400px; width:600px" /></p> <p>A NTSB investigation is in itself unsurprising. The board&nbsp;requires operators of unmanned aircraft to report any accident, and almost all accidents are investigated if the drone weighs more than 300 pounds and sustains substantial damage, requiring a major repair.</p> <p>Facebook presented a very rosy picture of its initial test. On July 21, Jay Parikh, global head of engineering and infrastructure at Facebook, addressed Aquila&#39;s maiden test flight in a blog post, claiming it out-performed expectations.</p> <p>&quot;This first functional check was a low-altitude flight, and it was so successful that we ended up flying Aquila for more than 90 minutes &mdash; three times longer than originally planned,&quot; he wrote.</p> <p>In another July post about early lessons from the flight, two Facebook engineers mentioned that a structural failure was encountered just before landing, but did not expand on the issue.&nbsp;</p> <p>The post explained that thanks to its low weight, the aircraft does not include &quot;traditional takeoff and landing gear.&quot;&nbsp;</p> <p>It also has a wing span on par with a Boeing 737, they noted, saying &quot;There is little to no precedent to guide us as we continue to optimize [sic] Aquila&#39;s performance.&quot;</p> <p>Commenting on&nbsp;<em>Bloomberg</em>&#39;s report, a Facebook spokesperson told&nbsp;<em>Mashable</em>&nbsp;the company was happy with the first test flight, which had &quot;no major unexpected results.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;We have already learned a lot from the results of this flight test and will continue to learn from all the future flight tests we plan to run,&quot; he said.</p>