AP Charles Sykes
AP Charles Sykes

This just in to the Santa-watch newsroom: The Federal Aviation Administration has cleared the sleigh designated Santa One for takeoff from a location believed to be somewhere near the North Pole, a region over which the agency has no particular jurisdiction. But if Washington can listen in on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone chats, why not regulate Santa Claus too?

“I feel a special responsibility to make sure Santa’s flight goes off without a hitch,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Foxx says FAA inspectors put in many hours ensuring that the sleigh’s systems  met all applicable regulations. The FAA approved installation of a state-of-the-art WiFi system so Santa’s helpers can use their cell phones and laptops to connect with the Internet. Due to the FAA’s policy change in late October, the elves may now use their personal electronics from takeoff to landing to keep in touch with the North Pole.

“We’re helping Santa fly smarter and faster while making sure he has a safe and successful mission” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

In a statement, the FAA said, “After an evaluation period, FAA inspectors gave Santa a thumbs-up to use a tablet computer instead of paper documents to store his flight plan, chimney approach charts and Naughty-or-Nice checklist. Inspectors verified that Santa has an appropriate flight, duty and rest program, and that Santa One has an approved crew rest area. The FAA also confirmed that Santa’s First Officer, Amelia Elfhart, has the required 1,500 sleigh piloting hours and Santa One type rating. Santa made sure he could continue to serve as Sleigh Captain by completing a new FAA-approved Sleigh Transport Pilot training program.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Tenn.) was not immediately available to comment on whether this was government overreach.

You can follow Santa’s flight at the NORAD Tracks Santa website: www.noradsanta.org