There are no Grinches at the FAA. “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced it has granted Santa Claus and his reindeer-powered sleigh special operating authority to engage in interstate air-cargo-delivery services directly to rooftops throughout the United States on Christmas Eve,” says an FAA press release.
This year, Santa’s sleigh has been superpowered – and the FAA has worked to adjust their licensing accordingly. This season, “for the first time ever, the FAA issued Santa a special commercial space license for a crewed mission to the International Space Station using his StarSleigh-1 space capsule powered by the Rudolph Rocket,” says the press release. “The mission license includes both launch and reentry operations and will occur from a U.S.-based spaceport.”
“We are pleased to help Santa safely navigate through the National Airspace System to bring his unique and universal brand of good will and joy to children and adults of all ages—even to those orbiting the Earth,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “Let’s face it, 2020 was a difficult year and we all could use some special holiday cheer that only Santa can deliver.”
The following is taken from the FAA press release:
Being a world humanitarian, Santa knows this Christmas is different from other years and he wholeheartedly agrees with the FAA decision to give priority to flights carrying COVID-19 vaccines and other cargo critical to the nation’s response to the ongoing public health emergency.
Nonetheless, with the aid of a flight plan that takes advantage of simplified air routes and NextGen satellite navigation, Santa is confident he will deliver all his gifts by Christmas morning as he has done for centuries.
In addition, Santa has informed the FAA he will FlyHealthy during his journey by wearing a face mask on his flight to set a good example for everyone who is traveling by air this holiday season.
To ensure Santa and all other pilots have a safe trip, the FAA is asking the public for assistance and avoid creating a serious safety risk with drones and lasers. Sending up a drone to take a picture or video of an aircraft or sleigh is distracting to the pilots and will scare the reindeer, while holiday laser-light displays aimed into the sky can temporarily blind pilots.
Don’t miss the opportunity to track Santa’s progress with your kids as he travels across the U.S. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracks Santa’s Christmas Eve trip on this website.