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Big flight gets green light as FAA clears Santa One – The Official Blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation

December 22, 2011
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Our dedicated FAA team works hard all year long to ensure we have the best and safest aviation system in the world. And I’m pleased to say our air traffic controllers will have the opportunity to work with the world’s safest pilot very soon. Santa Claus has been flying accident-free for centuries, and today our FAA safety inspectors have cleared Santa One–the world’s only known reindeer-powered aircraft–to deliver presents to children around the world this year.

This year, Santa’s flight will be the safest and most successful one yet thanks to the NextGen technology used by North Pole International Airport. Rudolph’s red nose features gumdrop-enhanced avionics to make it ten times brighter and easier to track, even in the heavy snowfalls experienced at the Pole. And air traffic control will keep Santa safely separated from other aircraft by having him fly at a cruising altitude of 50,000 feet. That’s higher than commercial aircraft fly. They’ll also be tracking him using Candy Cane Satellite Surveillance-Broadcast, an enhancement of the FAA’s satellite-based system called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast.

In addition to keeping Santa, the reindeer and his important cargo safe, these improvements will allow Santa to fly the fastest, most efficient route, and that benefits children around the world as well as the entire North Pole community. Santa’s reindeer will need to eat fewer carrots over the course of the night. Rudolph and his friends will have more time for reindeer games and more room in their stomachs for milk and cookies. Plus, they’ll be cutting down on their carbon hoofprint.

But you don’t need antlers or a red suit to realize that the improvements to Santa’s route will help him make more deliveries. More deliveries means more gifts for children all around the world. Reports say that elf hiring has gone up 50% at his workshop due to the need for increased toy output.

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