YUMA, Ariz. (AP) — An unmanned aircraft that is part of Facebook’s plan to send internet signals to remote parts of the world crash-landed in the Arizona desert over the summer because of strong winds, investigators said.
The social media company’s solar-powered aircraft, Aquila, crashed during its first test flight June 28 near Yuma, Arizona. Wind gusts were about twice as strong as the aircraft could handle and broke a wing, according to a final report from the National Transportation Safety Board that was released Friday.
The wing was damaged when the aircraft was about 20 feet off the ground and flying at about 29 mph at the Yuma Proving Ground, a U.S. Army installation in southwestern Arizona.
“The aircraft experienced significant deviations in pitch, roll and airspeed, consistent with turbulence during the final approach,” the report said.
The NTSB report says the test aircraft was “substantially damaged” by the wing’s structural failure and the crash, but there were no injuries or damage on the ground.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a July 21 post that the flight was a success because of all the data collected. He didn’t mention the crash.
He has said the Silicon Valley-based the social network wants a fleet of high-flying aircraft to send internet signals to remote areas. The idea is that the aircraft would fly very slowly, using as little energy as possible to remain aloft for months at a time, Zuckerberg said in the post.
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