A full-scale version of Aquila – the high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft designed by Facebook’s aerospace team in the UK – is now complete and ready for flight testing later this year, the California, USA-headquartered company has confirmed.
Aquila has the wingspan of a 737 but weighs hundreds of times less as a result of its unique design and carbon-fiber frame. When deployed, it will be able to circle a remote region for up to 90 days, beaming connectivity down to those below from an altitude of 60,000 to 90,000ft.
“We want to find ways to provide internet connectivity to the more than 4 billion people who are not yet online,” explained Jay Parikh, VP of global engineering and infrastructure.
“Our goal is to accelerate the development of a new set of technologies that can drastically change the economics of deploying internet infrastructure. We are exploring a number of different approaches to this challenge, including aircraft, satellites and terrestrial solutions. Our intention is not to build networks and then operate them ourselves, but rather to quickly advance the state of these technologies to the point that they become viable solutions for operators and other partners to deploy.”
August 7, 2015