Junior pilots can rest easy tonight – The Federal Aviation Administration has cleared Santa Claus, his elfin crew and the Santa One sleigh for the annual round-the-world flight that will deliver presents to good boys and girls everywhere.
While Santa is no stranger to leaving electronics under the tree, he and the elves will actually be using them this year! The FAA 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 cockpit. 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.
Pilot issues also were on the FAA’s Santa-related agenda 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 agency also confirmed that Santa’s First Officer, Amelia Elfhart, has the required 1,500 sleigh piloting hours and Santa One type rating. Santa himself made sure he could continue to serve as Sleigh Captain by completing a new FAA-approved Sleigh Transport Pilot training program.
The FAA ho-ho-hopes Santa has a safe and successful mission tonight. You can follow Santa’s flight at the NORAD Tracks Santa website: www.noradsanta.org