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Breaking news: Santa's sleigh gets clearance from FAA

December 22, 2011 |  2:15 pm

Santa_Claus_and_Rudolph
Santa Claus, you're cleared for takeoff.

Santa One -- Santa's reindeer-powered sleigh -- has passed all safety inspections and is ready to fly higher, faster and more efficiently to deliver toys to good little girls and boys this Christmas, the Federal Aviation Administration reported Thursday.

The news was announced at the North Pole, after what the agency describes as a "thorough" safety inspection. The FAA says it was especially impressed with the aircraft's NextGen system.

"The satellite-based technology the elves have installed on Santa One will ensure that Santa stays safe and reaches all of his rooftops on time," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in the announcement. "As a result of this improved technology, Santa will be able to deliver more presents to more children around the world."

(Unless, of course, they've been naughty.)

Santa One is scheduled to make its way around the globe at 50,000 feet -- much higher than commercial aircraft are allowed to fly -- making for a more efficient trip, the FAA said. Moreover, the FAA noted, "gumdrop-enhanced avionics installed in Rudolph’s red nose will make it 10 times brighter, allowing the elves to track Santa One even during the type of heavy snowfall expected this Christmas."

The FAA noted that the NextGen technology, which, not so coincidentally, is also the name of the agency's new air-traffic control system for improving air travel, will have a positive ripple effect on the economy and the environment.

See if you can keep up with the FDA's logic: Faster travel means more gifts. The need for more gifts means more jobs for elves -- with hiring up a reported 50% at the North Pole. Moreover, the faster routes are said to be better for the environment (the reindeer don't need to eat as much because they don't have to expend as much energy).

"The improved efficiency means reindeer will consume 1,080 fewer pounds of carrots this year. The trickle-down effect is expected to benefit the Easter Bunny," the FAA says.

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-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Image: Unfortunately, the FAA's news release did not include a photo of Santa One. So we figured a shot of Santa Claus and Rudolph from the stop-motion animated TV classic "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" is the next best thing. Credit: Paul Vernon / Associated Press

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