The History of the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt (Federal Aviation Office)
By law of November 30, 1954 (Federal Law Gazette p. 354), the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt (LBA), the Federal Aviation Office, was established as the supreme Federal Authority to fulfil tasks in the field of civil aviation. It is subordinated to the Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI). The LBA consists of the Headquarters in Braunschweig and the Regional Offices in Düsseldorf, Frankfurt/Main, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and Berlin. The tasks of the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt are laid down in the LBA Act (Gesetz über das Luftfahrt-Bundesamt). The most important goal of the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt is to avert hazards to the safety of aviation as well as to public safety and order.
The origins of the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt can be traced back to the year of 1918. At that time, after the end of World War I, the “Reichsamt des Inneren" (national office of the interior) was provisionally charged to settle matters in aviation. Finally, the “Reichsluftamt" (national office of aviation) was given the responsibility for these tasks and in this way became the predecessor of the present Luftfahrt-Bundesamt.
The first director of this Office was Undersecretary August Euler, a well-known pioneer in flying. In 1920, the Reichsverkehrsministerium (national ministry of transport) was founded. After the reorganisation of aviation administration in 1933/34, all competencies were transferred to the Reichsluftministerium (RLM) (national ministry of aviation) and its subordinate offices.
After the end of World War II, aviation administration was taken over by the occupying powers. With the re-establishment of air sovereignty, the paths of aviation administration in Germany diverged for political reasons. The GDR (German Democratic Republic) went its own way and transferred civil aviation administration to the “Hauptverwaltung der Zivilen Luftfahrt im Ministerium für Verkehrswesen (HVZL) (head quarters of civil aviation administration at the ministry of transport) and the ”Staatliche Luftffahrt-Inspektion (SLI)“ (national aviation inspection).
In the Federal Republic of Germany, civil administration was assigned on the one hand to the Federal Government, i.e. to the “Bundesministerium für Verkehr (BMV)“ (German Federal Ministry of Transport) and on the other, to the Federal States (Laender) with their aeronautical authorities, thus dividing civil aviation administration between the Government and the Laender.
In 1954, the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt was founded to assist the BMV. The tasks to be fulfilled were assigned to the LBA by law. At the same time, Dr. Ing. Hans-Christoph Seebohm, the then Federal Minister of Transport and former President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Braunschweig, nominated the city of Braunschweig to be the seat of the Office of Civil Aviation. One argument which he put forward in favour of Braunschweig and which showed his far-sightedness was the central location of the Authority in a re-united Germany.
With the tasks defined and location determined, the fundament was created, and, on February 1, 1955, the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt was able to start work with 28 staff members in the main building at Braunschweig airport.
In the course of time, as a result of increasing air traffic, higher requirements on safety, and finally the reunification of Germany, the LBA developed from its small beginnings to what it is today. With more than 100 certification, inspection and surveillance functions, the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt guarantees the high technical and operational standard of aviation in Germany.