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Sleigh One gets a SASsy upgrade.

It’s that time again and, like the past few years, the wee folks up at the North Pole aren’t the only ones busy preparing for Santa’s annual midnight mission. The “elves” at our hangar in Mineral Wells have been very busy completing an annual avionics upgrade on a certain jolly ol’ pilot’s favorite plane.

Along with the routine inspection of Sleigh One’s dual 6” x 8” IDU-680 EFIS integrated displays, our technicians confirmed the performance and accuracy of the system’s Conformal 3D Synthetic Vision with Highway-In-The-Sky.

This state-of-the-art technology gives Santa a real-time, 3D picture of any traffic, terrain and known obstacles along his route. Of course, the solid-state displays are also perfect for your installation. They’re ruggedized for cold temperatures and vibration. Repeated very short-roof takeoffs and landings put a lot of strain on the ol’ hardware – and they’re tough on the avionics too.

In addition, our techs also upgraded the software on Sleigh One’s one-off, low-level H-TAWS and checked the accuracy of the WAAS-GPS – wouldn’t want to hit anything or miss anyone.

I’m happy to report that from antenna inspections to software updates, the whole annual went smoother than marshmallow cream.

But that’s not to say we didn’t make any upgrades. While the sleigh was opened up here in the shop, we did take the opportunity to add a very special piece of safety-enhancing equipment: We installed the world’s first (and only) SleighSAS system.

SleighSAS is a specially modified version of our Helicopter Stability Augmentation and Autopilot System (HeliSAS). Like our popular HeliSAS, SleighSAS will give Santa that added bit of safety should he have to take his hands off the controls, I mean reins. Hey, a guy’s gotta have a hot chocolate break now and then – it’s a long, long night.

Besides, ol’ Rudolph and the team are getting a bit long in the tooth and they can get easily distracted. One whiff of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and they will roll over into an unusual attitude quicker than you can say jingle bells.

Should that happen, all St. Nick needs to do is to let go – yes, let go – of the reins and SleighSAS will automatically recover to a near-level attitude with nary a present out of place.

So rest assured, dear reader, that when it comes to keeping Sleigh One on course through rain, wind, fog, cold and dark of night, the team here at Genesys Aerosystems has Santa’s safety – and the gifts you’re anxious to receive – well in hand.

Until next time, everyone here at Genesys Aerosystems would like to send along the very Merriest of Christmases and Happiest of New Years to you all.


All the best,