Every year NATS guides 2.5 million flights through UK airspace. That’s a huge responsibility, and of course, every single one is important… but there is always one that’s extra special – Santa’s Christmas Eve delivery flight.

Each year we try and give you an insight into the immense amount of work that goes into planning the delivery of presents to millions of children. It’s a huge undertaking.

Previous years have seen us collaborate with our North Pole counterparts at Elf Traffic Control to allow you to produce personalised flight plans. We’ve created visualisations that show Santa’s Christmas Eve flight path, and even given a sneak peek at the usually top secret planning process during Santa’s pre-Christmas visit to our Head Office.

But this year is different. We need your help and so does Santa.

Starting on Wednesday, Santa will be conducting a number of test flights in order to put a brand new sleigh – the Supersleigh SL560 – through its paces at a number of locations all around the world.

But we don’t know the exact places (there are some things Santa keeps secret even from us), which is why we need your help.

Using the free Airspace Explorer iPad app – which lets you track flights all over the globe – we need you to use the newly in-built Sleighdar to track down Santa wherever he’s flying in the world. Once you’ve found him, listen in to Air Traffic Control and then take a screengrab to share with us on social media using the tag #SantasTestFlight.

An artist’s impression of how Santa’s test flight might look. The new Sleighdar will help you track down Santa wherever he is in the world.

You can see the app in this year’s Christmas film, above.

We need as many of you as possible to take part. Every verified location gives us more chances to calibrate our systems for the new sleigh in time for a successful Christmas Eve delivery flight.

He’ll be conducting a number of flights from Wednesday until Christmas Eve, so there will be plenty of opportunities to track him down, but each contribution is vital.

And while we don’t know the exact locations, each day we’ll be posting a Santa NOTAM – or SANTAM – that might help you track him down.

So, download Airspace Explorer and keep an eye on our social channels from the middle of this week and good luck – Christmas itself may depend on you.

Follow NATS on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


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Chris Smith

With the market for iPads apparently declining, is the app ever likely to be released for iPhones?



Paul Wassell

Why no Airspace Explorer for Android?



alan mcclenaghan

I agree with Paul – not every one is a slave to the power of Apple marketing



Mark Allen

I don’t have an IPad… but I do have lots of other mobile devices…. please can this be platform-agnostic? You are missing a huge audience



Ron Brooks

This like an article for the Sunday Post ?





Please make it available for android.




Absolutely brilliant. Loved it. Well done NATS.


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