Aquila’s successful second flight: Another step forward in bringing the world closer together

Aquila’s successful second flight: Another step forward in bringing the world closer together

By | June 30th, 2017
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Just after dawn on May 22, Facebook reached another exciting and important

milestone for the Aquila program — completing the successful second

full-scale test flight of the aircraft. The aircraft flew for 1 hour and 46

minutes, and landed perfectly on our prepared landing site.


														
							

In order to launch right after sunrise, which was at 5:15 am, we showed up at the gate to Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona at 12:30 am. While some members of the team began to open the hangar and lift the airplane onto its takeoff dolly, the rest of us prepared the ground control station and engineering station. And pretty much everybody studied the wind forecast.

Aquila’s second test flight took into account the lessons we learned from our first flight. In advance of the second flight, we incorporated a number of modifications to Aquila, including:

  • Adding “spoilers” to the wings, which help to increase drag and reduce lift during the landing approach
  • Incorporating hundreds of sensors to gather new data
  • Modifying the autopilot software
  • Integrating new radios for the communication subsystem
  • Applying a smoother finish on the plane
  • Installing a horizontal propeller stopping mechanism to support a successful landing
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Nisheeth Bhakuni