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Facebook's internet drone completed his first flight

Facebook's internet drone completed his first flightA solar-powered Aquila drone has completed a first test flight, Facebook revealed in its statement on Thursday.

The trial, which took place above the US, is intended to ultimately lead to the creation of a fleet of internet-beaming aircraft that will make it possible for more people to get online.

"After two years of engineering, I'm proud to announce the successful first flight of Aquila -- the solar-powered plane we designed to beam internet to remote parts of the world," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Thursday.

The flight took place before dawn in Yuma, Arizona, on June 28. At first, Aquila was planned to fly for 30 minutes but as things went quite well, it was decided to keep the plane up for nearly 96 minutes.

Aquila has a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737 but has to weigh as little as possible to stay up for as long as possible. The body of the plane is made of a carbon fibre composite so the whole thing weighs less than 1,000 pounds or about the same as a grand piano.


Aquila is mostly self-sufficient but it still relies on a ground crew of about a dozen engineers, pilots and technicians, who direct, maintain and monitor the aircraft. They control the aircraft through software which allows them to determine heading, altitude and airspeed - or send Aquila on a GPS-based route.

Takeoff and landing are automatic, since no human pilot can land in a precise location as well as software can.

Aquila will go through several more tests. When deployed, Aquila will be part of a fleet of airplanes beaming internet signal to people within a 60-mile communications diameter for up to 90 days at a time.
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