“The aircraft was substantially damaged,” according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Facebook has been touting a possible future where its drones would be filling the skies, beaming fast internet access to remote regions. To do so, the Aquila drone was tested over the skies of the Arizona desert. Unfortunately, it would seem that the drone crashed before it could land, sustaining massive damage in the process.
THE DRONE JUST COMPLETED ITS FLIGHT TEST
The drone just completed its flight test and stayed in the air for 90 minutes before it crashed, Recode reports. The Aquila was almost on the ground to land when the incident happened, causing massive damage to the drone.
Fortunately, no one was hurt during the crash and the engineering team actually seemed to have gathered more data from the test that seemed to have also gone on for longer than intended. The flight test was only supposed to last for 30 minutes, but the flight went on to reach 96 minutes due to the initially favorable conditions.
Speaking to TechCrunch, the head of the Connectivity Lab at Facebook, Yael Maguire explained what likely went wrong during the test. During the extra hour that the drone stayed in the air, the atmospheric temperature rose along with the sun.
THE TEAM MONITORING THE FLIGHT NOTICED TOO LATE
As a result, the team monitoring the flight noticed too late that in the last few seconds before the crash, critical thermal changes occurred; hence, the unexpected gust of wind. Despite this rather common setback, Facebook is already working on fixing the Aquila and adding new updates in order to compensate for such changes in the future.