Lufthansa Systems Blog

The flight route of Santa Claus


Dec 12, 2018

Ho ho ho! Since 2016, the experts from Lufthansa Systems are helping me with planning my flight. This article explains why my zigzag route around the world is not caused by too much mulled wine and why I am thinking about digitizing my reindeer sleigh.

I don't like climate change. As wet and foggy as it is in many places these days, I will need Rudolf's red nose more than ever this year. Rudolf is a magnificent animal, but he cannot yet gallop automatically – I still have to navigate the sleigh myself. To ensure that my reindeers and I don't have to work long hours when distributing the presents, a team of experts was kind enough to calculate the most efficient route around the world. Among them were scientists of the Matheon Research Center and the Konrad-Zuse-Institut Berlin as well as experts for flight planning from Lufthansa Systems.


The perfect route for the reindeer sleigh

This perfect flight route takes me from my home at the North Pole via Europe and the Middle East to Russia. Then it goes on to Asia, Africa and North America. From there I navigate to South America to get some warmth. After a short "Aloha!" follows Papua New Guinea and Australia. On the way back, I work through other stations in Asia, on the Arabian Peninsula and in Europe and can then enjoy my well-earned rest at home at the North Pole.


Why Santa stops the time

My flight around the world takes a whole 406 hours or almost 17 days. Believe it or not, I cover 365,174 kilometres in my reindeer sleigh. That is more than nine times the earth's circumference. Not bad, is it? Because the route leads over the date line, I would lose an additional day on the long journey. Of course, that wouldn´t work, as all the children should receive their Christmas surprises in time. So, one can already speak of luck that I can stop the earthly time while I´m flying my round.

Too much Glogg?

If you are looking at the route and you are wondering whether I had quite some Glogg in Finland and too much mulled wine in Germany, you can relax: Crossings, loops or supposed detours on the route are no mistakes. A longer flight route can be faster and more fuel-efficient than the seemingly best direct connection. And as a role model for the children I naturally adhere to the airways network. This global network has around 300,000 segments at each of the about 30 permitted altitudes.


Christmassy parameters

The experts at Lufthansa Systems explained to me that flight planning solutions always calculate the most efficient flight connection between departure und destination. They consider flight times, aircraft or sled type, fuel or reindeer feed consumption and weather conditions. To calculate my route, they took the following parameters into account:

  • The route starts at the North Pole and includes 1305 destinations around the world.
  • To save time, I don't land on the way, but throw the presents from the air and have them distributed by my busy Christmas elves.
  • My reindeer sleigh flies at constant speed (900 km/h) and altitude (10 km). The so-called ground speed, or speed relative to the earth's surface, depends on the wind. Since I stop the time to cover the long distance, the weather remains constant.
  • Because of my bottomless gift bag, the burden of gifts for two billion children was not included in the calculation.
  • Due to my international popularity status I don't pay overflight fees. As an Arctic resident I also have an international passport. Lucky me! Otherwise, I might have to pay penalty fees in some countries these days.


Dreaming of the future: Connectivity in the reindeer sleigh

Digitization really isn't my thing, but I am thinking about upgrading my reindeer sleigh with connectivity. Because then the experts of Lufthansa Systems could even include live weather data from Lido Navigation in the calculations. That way, Rudolf would know exactly how bright his nose must shine on the different route sections.


I wish you all a Merry Christmas and will do my best to deliver your gifts undamaged and on time!


Yours Santa Claus



About the project: In 2016, Lufthansa Systems contributed the relevant data on the air route network as well as further information on weather and aircraft performance for calculating the route. The flight planning experts are very familiar with these criteria, as around 120 airlines worldwide with a total of more than 6,000 aircraft use the Lido Flight 4D flight planning solution from Lufthansa Systems. Lido Flight 4D has been successfully on the market for more than 20 years. In Europe alone, its market share is 45 percent.

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Tags: flight planningSanta Clausoptimal flight routeLufthansa Systems Blog
Santa Claus
Manager for Gifts
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