Santa's sleigh has been updated with new satellite-based NextGen technology, the FAA said this week. The upgrade will allow Santa to deliver more toys to more children with improved safety and efficiency, according to the agency. "Santa's cockpit display will help improve his situational awareness by showing him and his reindeer flight crew their precise location in relation to other aircraft, bad weather and terrain," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "NextGen will help make this an extra-safe Christmas Eve." As it does every year, NORAD will track Santa's progress around the world on Christmas Eve on its website. This year, you can also track Santa on your mobile phone via Google maps on Christmas Eve; just search for "Santa" to see his latest location, NORAD says.
NORAD has been providing Christmas Eve reports on Santa's flight for 55 years. The tradition began when a misprinted number for children to call Santa in a holiday advertisement was directed to an office of the Continental Air Defense Command, which later became NORAD. The staffers who answered the phone gave the children updates on Santa's location, and a tradition was born. The FAA says NextGen technology will allow Santa's sleigh to maintain cruising altitude for as long as possible before making a continuous descent into cities and towns around the world. Also, shorter, faster routings mean that Rudolph and the other reindeer will consume less hay, resulting in fewer greenhouse gas emissions.