Michael Oliver & Karim Cosslett / December 19, 2019

If Santa's Sleigh was a Drone...

Michael Oliver & Karim Cosslett By Michael Oliver & Karim Cosslett

Imagine a world where Santa Claus decided to embrace autonomy. He hangs up his boots, pours himself a glass of milk (whisky), and addresses modernisation through the use of drones.  So, what would Santa's main challenges be?


  • As we know, all of Santa's reindeer are females, therefore, average weight is 100kg each (80 - 120kg is average for a female), therefore, 9 x 100kg = 900kg (as we know, they're named: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen).

  • 1 x 1 Tonne Drone-Sleigh.

  • 1 Tonne of snow and ice accumulation during flight.

  • Assumption:  2 x presents per child at an average of 2 kgs each present x 2.2 billion children in the world = roughly 8.8 billion Tonnes.

  • We also need to factor in the children on the naughty list... this means not everyone will get presents. The good news is that instead of a present, they will get pieces of coal, so in effect we keep the weight the same.  If you'd like to check your status on the good or naughty list, you can do this with this helpful tool.

Speed, Take off and Landing:

  • Santa uses mVTOL (Magic Vertical Take-off and Landing); neither ICAO or EASA are yet to fully define mVTOL so we've taken the liberty of  defining this ourselves:  "mVTOL:  the ability to take off, fly and land on a short roof-top 'runway' using the power of apparently mysterious or supernatural forces."

  • Santa has to deliver all of the presents (or coal) to around 2.2 billion children spread over 200 million square miles. Because each household has on average 2.67 children, there are about 823 million homes to visit.  Therefore, Santa needs to cover 122 million miles.  To cover that distance in 24 hours on Christmas Eve (24 hour period as the earth revolves), Mr. Claus's sleigh would need to travel at a whopping average speed of 5,083,000 mph.

Canva - Brown and Red Christmas Gifts

So, what would this mean, combined with the current legislation for drone operations?  Well, I guess its very much a BVLOS flight, assuming Santa has hung up his boots. So its now really all about permission to operate!

  • He has 364 days each year to get the elves to do all of the paper work, risk assessments, method statements and preparation of hardware; SOARIZON helps him and his team to keep this manageable and simple.

  • Santa would need to register himself in every authority in the world, although there are some countries that don’t actually allow the use of drones... so these homes will have to be delivered to using more traditional methods.

  • Santa would need to register his drone (definitely in the UK, US, Ireland, to name a few), and would need to print his unique registration and put it onto his Drone-Sleigh, as well as undertake the UK CAA's Flyer Test, etc.

  • In the USA, he would need to declare his mission for LAANC approval, probably for every flight (this may take some time)!

  • In the vicinity of airports, schools, prisons, arenas and other sensitive locations, this would mean everything needs to be deconflicted by Air Traffic to ensure air travellers can still get home for Christmas.

  • Weight wise, this definitely hits the high-level category for operations, so in Europe (at least) it would need to be managed through EASA.

  • Insurance; wow! Now this could be complex. For sure insurance will be required so we let our elf-friends at Moonrock Drone Insurance handle all of this for Santa!

Our warning to Santa is that legislation will be more complex next year, so the elves are in for a busy 2020!  SOARIZON of course will be on hand to help support these types of complex missions, and provide a clear overview of the operation.

Have a great Christmas, and if you want to live-track Santa's Drone-Sleigh, just head to www.noradsanta.org.

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