Although it was presented at the time as a successful test of Aquila–the internet-delivery drone with a wingspan the length of a Boeing 737–that had pushed the experimental aircraft to its limits, a new report suggests that the June 28 test ended with a more damaging landing than previously disclosed.
In a little-noticed passage of a blog post at the time touting the successes of that first flight, Facebook noted that there had been a “structural failure…just before landing.” Now, though, Bloomberg is reporting that the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident and that the agency “has classified the failure as an accident, meaning the damage was ‘substantial.'”
In a statement, Facebook said, “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. We have already learned a lot from the results of this flight test and will continue to learn from all the future flight tests we plan to run.”