SLEIGH RIDER ONE – Santa countdown begins!

Santa sleigh over Australia

With 15 sleeps left before Christmas, Airservices Australia has officially allocated Santa’s call sign—SLEIGH RIDER ONE—while also issuing a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) to advise aircraft to keep clear of Santa as he delivers presents across Australia on Christmas Eve.

With 2020 being a year like no other, Airservices and Santa have been working hard in the background to ensure that not only will he still depart from the North Pole on time, following his usual route travelling down the international dateline, but that everything is also COVID safe.

Santa will visit the Pacific Islands and New Zealand, where he then crosses into Australian airspace around Norfolk Island to zig zag his way up and down the country. He will exit Australian airspace by sunrise just over the Cocos Islands.

However, this is all the information Airservices can provide about Santa’s route as full details are classified TSS (Top Secret Santa).

His failsafe top secret route ensures Santa will visit every household before departing Australian airspace as he continues his journey onwards, dropping presents off for children in the countries north of Australia.

Airservices Acting Chief Air Traffic Controller Glen Lang says staff have been working hard to make sure Santa enjoys a COVID safe Christmas Eve flight and makes his deliveries on time.

“This has been an interesting year for everyone as we have all learned to work in the new COVID normal,” Glen said.

“It was vital to us all at Airservices that we provide Santa all the necessary support to make sure these essential deliveries happen as safely as possible. 

“Santa has very special requirements for his complex flight paths—in comparison to average aircraft he makes frequent tight turns and conducts multiple low level descents.

“To help make this safe, we’re using world-leading air traffic management satellite technology to ensure we keep Santa and his reindeer safe, on-time and on-track to deliver presents.

“He’s cleared to fly at 500FT so he can skim the rooftops and deliver his presents quickly and quietly. He is also authorised to use his booster rockets as required to fly at much faster speeds if he is falling behind.

“Our air traffic controllers, engineers, technicians and aviation rescue fire fighters all have to work hard on Christmas Eve to keep up with Santa.”

Visit Santa’s dedicated Airservices Facebook page and watch his progress on Christmas Eve, one of the busiest nights of the year in Australian airspace.

Posted on: December 10, 2020

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