Internet giant Facebook continues to implement a mega-project to create its own Internet broadcasting network using special Aquila drones that can continuously stay in the air for up to three months. A full-scale prototype was unveiled a year ago, and now Aquila has taken off for the first time.
The Aquila is a giant flying wing with a span of 42 meters, even larger than the Boeing 737 and about three times lighter than an electric car. Almost half of the weight comes from the solar panels that cover the drone. The Aquila's body is made of carbon fiber. Its creators hope that over time it will be able to rise to a height of 27, 000 meters.
The Facebook messenger made its maiden flight on June 28. To start from the ground, a special platform towed by a car was used. As soon as the required speed was reached, the drone separated from it.
To fly at altitudes up to 27, 000 meters at night, Aquila requires at least 5, 000 watts, which it must accumulate in solar panels during the day. In total, the autopilot-controlled drone stayed aloft for 96 minutes during the test.
During a test flight, it managed to reach a speed of 40 km / h, thanks to the unique weight-to-surface ratio of the aircraft, using only 2000 watts, which is a good indicator of energy efficiency.