Santa Claus approved for flight across U.S., Canada

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Federal governments have authorized Santa Claus to make his annual trek across the United States and Canada.

Earlier this week, both governments inspected Santa Claus’ sleigh and approved it for flight.

The jolly man in red “went green” this holiday season and the U.S. Department of Transportation certified Santa’s first-ever hydrogen powered sleigh as safe to operate in U.S. airspace.

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“Santa’s new sleigh is a hybrid vehicle that can fly using either the traditional eight tiny reindeer or modern hydrogen fuel cells,” Secretary Mary Peters explained. “The hydrogen sleigh is quieter, so Santa can make his deliveries without waking children and disturbing the visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads.”

Members of the department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration Holiday Team inspected Santa’s sleigh and found it both impressive and safe.

“Now, it seems those innovative elves have souped up Santa’s sleigh with 21st Century technology,” she said.

They have equipped the sleigh with GPS navigation to make sure Santa finds the homes of every last kid on his list, and route optimizer software will make sure he takes the most efficient path to get there.”

After the inspection, the Secretary signed a “Hydrogen Prototype Vehicle Waiver” that authorizes Santa, a.k.a. Kris Kringle, to operate the vehicle in U.S. airspace and on rooftops.

At the FAA Command Center in Herndon, Va., air traffic managers are also double-checking their equipment and procedures for Santa’s Christmas Eve flight. &uot;The Command Center takes pride in providing Santa the safest and most efficient routes possible,&uot; said the center’s National Operations Manager John Shaffrey. &uot;As with any VIP movement, Santa’s flight route is monitored.”

Using the same tools as the ones that will safely and efficiently guide other flights this holiday period, the Command Center will ensure &uot;Santa 1&uot; gets to its destination, estimated to be the rooftops of the houses of several million kids who made the &uot;nice&uot; list.

During flight the sleigh can be tracked on FAA Web site at

In Canada, Santa had to not only pass the flight simulator course required of all pilots, he had to undergo a medical exam.

According to a report from Transport Canada, Santa Claus passed his medical test with flying colors, although his physician suggested he eat fewer cookies this holiday season. His blood pressure is fine and his eyesight is very good. Regular medical tests are part of the requirements that pilots need to meet to obtain and keep their license.

A Transport Canada inspector traveled to the North Pole to conduct Santa’s check ride. Santa made sure the sleigh was washed and the reindeer were clean. The inspector checked the equipment by walking around the sleigh, checking the harnesses, the landing gear and even Rudolph’s nose. He also verified Santa’s logbook and made sure all of Santa’s paperwork was in order.

Since the sleigh is certified by Transport Canada, the department approved modifications to the sleigh’s design, so Santa Claus can take advantage of newer technologies such as GPS, in case Rudolph’s nose malfunctions.