This year, as Christmas Eve approaches, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) are ensuring that Santa One can take off, and will fly safely as Santa and his reindeer deliver presents all over the world.
FAA Clears Santa One for Takeoff
FAA safety inspectors have given the thumbs-up for the reindeer-powered sleigh known as Santa One to fly on Christmas Eve so Santa Claus can deliver presents to children around the world. The approval came after a thorough inspection of the aircraft at the North Pole.
“The satellite-based technology the elves have installed on Santa One will ensure that Santa stays safe and reaches all of his rooftops on time,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “As a result of this improved technology, Santa will be able to deliver more presents to more children around the world.”
Special, gumdrop-enhanced avionics installed in Rudolph’s red nose will make it 10 times brighter, allowing the elves to track Santa One even during the type of heavy snowfall expected this Christmas. Elves in an air traffic control tower on the top of the North Pole will keep Santa One safely separated from other aircraft using Candy Cane Satellite Surveillance-Broadcast, an enhancement of the FAA’s satellite-based system called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast.
The faster routes are much better for the environment because the team of nine reindeer will consume fewer carrots this Christmas Eve. In the past, each of the nine reindeer has consumed an average of 24 pounds of carrots per hour during the 10-hour voyage, with Rudolph consuming 28 to 30 pounds. The improved efficiency means reindeer will consume 1,080 fewer pounds of carrots this year. The trickle-down effect is expected to benefit the Easter Bunny.
The FAA has more information about how NextGen is helping Santa deliver toys at the Santa One Story. The website features fun and interactive information on the different ways Santa is benefitting from NextGen, educational puzzles, Santa’s approved flight plan and a link to track his Christmas Eve voyage.
NORAD Tracks Santa
NORAD will of course be tracking Santa, using radar, satellites, Santa cams and fighter jets.
Tracking Santa starts with the NORAD radar system called the North Warning System. This powerful radar system consists of 47 installations strung across the northern border of North America. On December 24th, NORAD monitors the radar systems continuously for indications that Santa Claus has left the North Pole.
Canadian NORAD fighter pilots flying the CF-18 intercept and welcome Santa to North America. In the United States, American NORAD fighter pilots in either the F-15, F-16 or the F-22 get the thrill of flying alongside Santa and his famous reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and, of course, Rudolph.
Once data is collected on December 24th, it is then pushed into the Google Maps and Google Earth so that families all over the world can also follow Santa.