We were all children once, and we know how wonderful it is to wake up on Christmas morning and see presents underneath the tree. That's why air traffic controllers, inspectors, and technicians at the Federal Aviation Administration have been working overtime to make sure the sleigh and the flight plan are cleared for Santa's important annual flight.
And today, I'm pleased to let everyone know that Santa One has indeed been cleared for takeoff on Christmas Eve.
"We've 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.”
FAA isn't limiting itself to Santa One flight clearance. www.faa.gov/santa also features a set of special gifts for everyone in the form of Santa and aviation-related fun facts that will occupy you and your kids while you patiently count down the days, hours, and minutes until Santa One takes off.
And what could be better than a cleared flight for Santa One? One that is safer, quieter, and more fuel-efficient than ever thanks to NextGen technology.
A special team of elves has already outfitted the big man's sleigh with sophisticated equipment to take advantage of these new routes while also enabling air traffic controllers –and Mrs. Claus– to know where he is at all times.
And thanks to the folks at NORAD, children can also monitor Santa's progress from the comfort of their homes through the Santa Tracker.
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 from one altitude to the next, much like going down a staircase. The Optimized Profile Descent allows Santa to slide smoothly down the banister, just as some children do on Christmas morning, descending gracefully without having to throttle back on the reindeer.
The NextGen program is transforming our national airspace to make it even safer and more efficient for the traveling public, airports and operators. And there's no reason that the world's most famous pilot shouldn't benefit from that progress, too.
So, here's to everyone at the North Pole and FAA working year-round to make sure Santa One can fulfill its critical mission. Your help truly makes this the most wonderful time of the year.