Facebook’s Aquila drone that the firm wants to use to beam internet access to remote parts of the world is being investigated after reports that it crashed on landing during a test flight earlier this year.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has confirmed it is looking into the incident that occurred on 28 June.
The organisation said the drone suffered a “structural failure” while approaching an landing strip in Arizona, causing major damage that rendered the drone unusable. No one was hurt in the incident.
Facebook had not revealed this information in its discussions of its drone, with a blog post in July focusing on the positives of the first test flights and the potential the drones held for delivering internet across the world.
In a statement the firm merely repeated this, claiming it was happy with what it learned from the test flight.
"We were happy with the successful first test flight and were able to verify several performance models and components including aerodynamics, batteries, control systems and crew training, with no major unexpected results," it said.
Facebook may will have been pushing the aircraft as hard as possible during testing and will look to use the crash data as a guide for just how tough the drone can be and what its operational limits are.
Nevertheless, while Facebook is playing it cool on the crash, the incident is hardly ideal for the company, and is not the first issue to hit its plans.
In September a rocket carrying a Facebook satellite exploded, while the firm that was responsible for that launch, Space X, has since announced it wants to put 4,425 satellites in space itself to beam internet coverage across the globe.
This could somewhat undermine the Facebook effort, although given the complexities of providing such services, as Facebook's drone crash proves, the race to be first to a full fleet of sky-based devices offering internet access is only just getting started.
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