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December 24, 2011

FAA Clears Santa’s New NextGen-Equipped Sleigh for Flights

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A press release we received late this week:

THE NORTH POLE – Federal Aviation Administration (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.”

Santa One, which will cruise at an altitude of 50,000 feet – far higher than commercial aircraft – will be able to fly faster, more efficient routes from cruising altitude to rooftops.

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 expected increase in present delivery has also improved the economy at the North Pole, since more elves are needed to make the gifts. The upward trend in gift-giving has, in turn, driven up hiring by 50 percent.

Children and families interested in learning more about how NextGen is helping Santa deliver toys with greater precision and reliability may visit the Santa One Story at www.faa.gov/santa. 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.

NextGen, in its simplest terms, is a new air traffic control system being implemented by the FAA to help all aircraft – especially Santa One – fly from Point A to Point B faster and more safely than ever before. The purpose of NextGen is to ensure passengers arrive at their destinations safely and on time – just as Santa will do on Christmas Eve. Information on NextGen is available at http://www.faa.gov/nextgen/.

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