Aquila drone, which at cruising speed uses same wattage as three hairdyrers, uses lasers to beam internet
to remote regions
Facebook has announced the first successful test flight of a high-altitude solar plane to bring internet
access to remote parts of the world. The Aquila drone has the wingspan of an airliner but weighs less than a car. When cruising it consumes just 5,000 watts – the same as three hairdryers or a
The first flight took place on 28 June in Arizona. Facebook said the test went better than expected and
that Aquila’s 96-minute flight was three times longer than planned.
Aquila was developed in in the UK in Bridgwater, Somerset and the drone, designed to fly non-stop for three
months, will use lasers to beam down internet access to remote areas without online capacity.
Facebook has a team of engineers at Bridgwater from fields of expertise including aerospace, avionics and
software and who had previously worked at organisations such as NASA, Boeing and the Royal Air Force. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, revealed in March 2015 that the company had
been testing drones in the skies over the UK.
Facebook intends Aquila to be part of a fleet of planes that will provide the internet to 4 billion people
in sub-Saharan Africa and other remote regions that do not have access currently.