Published on : Thursday, December 26, 2013
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Santa Claus, his elfin crew and the Santa One sleigh are GO for the annual round-the-world flight that will deliver presents to good boys and girls everywhere.
“This is my first holiday season as Secretary of Transportation, and I feel a special responsibility to make sure Santa’s flight goes off without a hitch,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
While there were no external changes to Santa One this year, FAA inspectors put in many hours ensuring that the sleigh’s systems – and especially its crew – met all applicable regulations. The agency approved installation of a state-of-the-art WiFi system so Santa’s helpers can use their Portable Elftronic Devices (PEDs) to connect with the internet. Thanks to the FAA’s policy change in late October, the elves may now use their PEDs from takeoff to landing to keep in touch with the North Pole.
The Jolly Old Elf himself will employ modern computer technology in the sleigh’s Captain’s seat. After an evaluation period, FAA inspectors gave Santa a thumbs-up to use a tablet computer instead of paper documents to store his flight plan, chimney approach charts and Naughty-or-Nice checklist.
“We’re helping Santa fly smarter and faster while making sure he has a safe and successful mission” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
Pilot issues occupied much of the FAA’s Santa-related activities this year. Inspectors verified that Santa has an appropriate flight, duty and rest program, and that Santa One has an approved crew rest area. The FAA also confirmed that Santa’s First Officer, Amelia Elfhart, has the required 1,500 sleigh piloting hours and Santa One type rating. Santa made sure he could continue to serve as Sleigh Captain by completing a new FAA-approved Sleigh Transport Pilot training program.