The Federal Aviation Administration said today that Santa One, a reindeer-powered sleigh that Santa Claus uses to deliver presents to children around the world, has been cleared for its Christmas Eve flight.
One of Santa’s challenges is navigating the congested airspace above major cities, a problem well known to all pilots. The FAA is attempting to simplify air routes around these busy areas through a program known as the Metroplex initiative, but the FAA seems biased toward commercial airlines, ignoring the needs and rights of general aviation pilots such as Claus.
The Metroplex program is based on what the FAA alleges is Performance Based Navigation or PBN, a component of a taxpayer-funded NextGen initiative that is years behind schedule and over budget. The FAA claims PBN will enable Santa to fly using radar or satellite coverage, or by using Santa One’s on-board flight management system. PBN allegedly will allow Santa to fly shorter, more direct routes, reducing flight time and carrot consumption by Rudolph and the other reindeer, but that is only after Santa spent thousands upon thousands of dollars upgrading his sleigh because of government mandates that have yet to be proven effective or cost efficient.
“As a grandfather of nine, I know how excited children are when they wake up on Christmas morning and see presents underneath the tree,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican from Illinois who has expressed his desire to leave after four years of running an $80 billion dollar bureaucracy that needs an overhaul. “One of the biggest benefits from NextGen is that it helps Santa deliver those presents with improved safety, accuracy and reliability to children who are good for goodness’ sake,” claimed LaHood.
AutoInformed salutes the real elves at the FAA, the hard working men and women who are our air traffic controllers. In spite of an FAA management bureaucracy that is often clueless and ineffective, these elves know how to move the aluminum – or in this case a wooden sleigh – without worrying about fine points of regulations while using demonstrably deficient equipment. Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus and the air traffic controllers will figure out how to speed his way. Therefore, AutoInformed sends season’s greetings to some of the hardest working civil servants in the U.S. And to all a good night, err good flight.