Santa's sleigh has received a major upgrade this year and was approved Monday by Federal Aviation Administration safety officers at the North Pole for its important mission on Christmas Eve, according to an agency news release.
Santa One, as the sleigh is known, has been outfitted with NextGen technology, compatible with the FAA's overhaul of the nation's air traffic control system. The improvement will "allow Santa to deliver more toys to more children with improved safety and efficiency," the release said.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, who leads Santa One, has had his nose outfitted with avionics that broadcast the sleigh's position via satellites to air traffic controllers with improved accuracy, integrity and reliability, according to the FAA. It was unclear what the cost was to Santa for the outfit.
"Santa's cockpit display will help improve his situational awareness by showing him and his reindeer flight crew their precise location in relation to other aircraft, bad weather and terrain," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt in a prepared statement.
Because of his celebrity, Santa also is receiving some special exceptions to FAA rules. He has been granted permission to fly thousands of domestic and international short-haul and long-range flights in one night. "In keeping with the FAA's science-based proposal to give pilots more rest, Santa will arrange his flight plan based on his circadian rhythm," FAA said. "Mrs. Claus also assured FAA safety inspectors that she'll make sure he gets plenty of rest before the flight on Christmas Eve."
Nextgov attempted to contact Santa for comment, but we could not reach the North Pole.
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