Santa One, the reindeer-powered sleigh Santa Claus uses to deliver presents to good children around the world, has been cleared for its worldwide Christmas Eve flight, the Federal Aviation Administration announced today.
Santa One will be faster, quieter and more efficient this year with the help of NextGen technologies being rolled out by the FAA.
One of the biggest benefits from NextGen is that it helps Santa deliver those presents with improved safety, accuracy and reliability to children who are good for goodness’ sake,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Like other pilots, one of Santa’s greatest logistical challenges is navigating the congested airspace above major cities. The FAA is hard at work simplifying air routes around these busy areas through an effort known as the Metroplex initiative. This initiative is based on what the FAA calls Performance-Based Navigation (PBN), a key component of NextGen.
PBN will enable Santa to fly Santa One using radar or satellite coverage, or by utilizing Santa One’s onboard flight management system. PBN will allow Santa to fly shorter, more direct routes, reducing flight time and carrot consumption by Rudolph and the other reindeer.
“Our air traffic controllers, inspectors and technicians have been working overtime with Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves to make sure his flight plan is in order and Santa One is working properly,” said Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We want to make sure Santa has a safe flight around the world, and that the children receive their presents.”
A special team of Santa’s elves has already outfitted the Santa One sleigh with the sophisticated equipment to take advantage of these new routes while also enabling air traffic controllers, and even Mrs. Claus, to know where he is at all times. This is good news for all children, since the improved efficiency will give Santa more time to deliver presents.
This year, Santa will fly from a cruising altitude of 50,000 feet down to rooftops using a satellite-based procedure called an Optimized Profile Descent.
In the past, Santa had to rely on ground-based procedures to descend slowly from one altitude to the next,much like going down a staircase. The Optimized Profile Descent allows Santa to slide gleefully through the air as if riding down the banister, just as some children do on Christmas morning, descending smoothly and gracefully without having to throttle back on Rudolph and the other reindeer.
You can track Santa’s flight on Christmas Eve here.
— Kate Rice