The word ‘Aquila’ in Latin means Eagle, Perfect name chosen by Mark and his team for their project of solar powered planes. With a mission to make the world more connected, Facebook spread its wings wide and came up with the idea of providing free internet to remote parts of the world through unmanned aircraft.
Aquila’s first successful flight was on 28th June; that broke all the records of staying up in the air for straight 96 minutes. It took two years of sheer hard work and dedication for the team to develop such a magnificent aircraft. They were stationed at different locations from Southern California to the United Kingdom. The team also had been working in rotations in Yuma, a small desert city in southwestern Arizona.
According to Zuckerberg, by providing internet to people in far fetched areas regardless of the income or where they live will lift millions of people out of poverty, it will improve education and health globally along the way which in itself is a remarkable achievement. Using high altitude drones would cater to a larger number of audiences spread across small urban and rural areas as they fly closer to the ground as compared to satellites hence providing strong signals. While comparing drones technology to Google’s project Loom, Mark’s stance was that these planes would be easier to maneuver also delivering high speeding internet through laser communication connecting everyone within 50 kilometers.
Engineering Facts of Aquila:
- Aquila has a wingspan of 141 feet which is wider than that of Boeing 737 which is 113 feet.
- It weighs same as a grand piano; the whole thing weighs less than 1000 pounds.
- It uses about 5000W of power at a cruising altitude equivalent to three hairdryers.
- In order to use least possible energy, Aquila is designed in a way that it moves the slowest. Whereas at higher altitudes, where the air is thinner, it go a bit faster which is about 80 mph.
With all great things underway, there are still a lot of uncertainties faced by Facebook team behind Aquila. One of the major obstacle is of regulatory authority for which Google and Facebook have teamed up to work with; such as Federal Aviation Administration to get permission for test flights. Apart from that there is no clarity about how governments around the world will take this technological advancement for connecting the world.
Although Aquila’s path forward is not completely clear but with the team being so highly motivated and dedicated we hope to see a fleet of Aquilas in the near future providing internet access to billions of people who are still deprived of it in the age of technology. For that, all we say is, ‘Good Luck Mark!’