Facebook and Airbus test internet drones in Australia

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Facebook is working with aeronautics company Airbus on drone-based connectivity, according to German publication Netzpolitik.

According to a document obtained by Netzpolitik through a Freedom of Information request, test flights for an Airbus Zephyr drone with a Facebook payload were scheduled for November and December 2018 in Australia.

The two companies previously met with European regulators in April 2018 to discuss providing connectivity using Zephyr drones. One European Commission official noted in an email that it could be deployed in a smart cities approach.

The Zephyr is a 'High Altitude Pseudo Satellite,' or HAPS, that charges its batteries via solar panels and can stay operative for weeks.

Facebook and Airbus are reportedly testing the Model S, which has a 25-meter wingspan. TechCrunch reports that it operates at an altitude of 20 kilometers, and uses millimeter-wave radio to broadcast to the ground.

The project is similar to Facebook's Aquila drone program, which aimed to provide internet connectivity to remote parts of the world. It was dropped in 2018 after years of development.

Though it's clear that Airbus and Facebook met with the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority to discuss the test flights, it's unclear if they actually took place.

A Facebook spokesperson told Netzpolitik, 'We continue to work with partners on High Altitude Platform System connectivity. We don't have further details to share at this time.' Airbus did not respond to a request for comment.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Airbus and Facebook drone test flights in Australia
2. Connectivity using Zephyr drones, can be deployed in smart cities approach
3. Zephyr drone using solar power, can stay operative for weeks
4. Zephyr S model wingspan, other features
5. Facebook Aquila drone program

VOICEOVER (in English):
"According to a document obtained by Netzpolitik through a Freedom of Information request, test flights for an Airbus Zephyr drone with a Facebook payload were scheduled for November and December 2018 in Australia."

"The two companies previously met with European regulators in April 2018 to discuss providing connectivity using Zephyr drones. One European Commission official noted in an email that it could be deployed in a smart cities approach."

"The Zephyr is a 'High Altitude Pseudo Satellite' or HAPS that charges its batteries via solar panels and can stay operative for weeks."

"Facebook and Airbus are reportedly testing the Model S, which has a 25-meter wingspan. TechCrunch reports that it operates at an altitude of 20 kilometers, and uses millimeter-wave radio to broadcast to the ground."

"The project is similar to Facebook's Aquila drone program, which aimed to provide internet connectivity to remote parts of the world. It was dropped in 2018 after years of development."

SOURCES:
Netzpolitik, TechCrunch
https://netzpolitik.org/2019/facebook-and-airbus-hold-secretive-drone-tests-in-the-australian-bush/
https://cdn.netzpolitik.org/wp-upload/2019/01/Facebook-Airbus-Zephyr-Test-Wyndham-Australia-Meeting-documents-FOI.pdf
https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/21/facebook-airbus-solar-drones-internet-program/