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Eleven International Publishing


Markus Geisler & Marius Boewe


The aim of this book is to assist in presenting and clarifying the applicable aviation law in Germany by providing a professional English translation of the German Civil Aviation Act. For a better understanding of the Act, an introduction has been added, setting out the national, European and international context. An outline of the Act is given and an account of other German Acts and Regulations covering the field of aviation law. Furthermore, some practical issues related to aviation law are included as well.

This book is a welcome addition to the literature in the field and should be of interest to anyone dealing with German aviation law. It is published as volume 5 in our Essential Air and Space Law series.

About the Authors

Markus Geisler holds the LL.M degree (1993) of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA.) and the Dr. jur. degree (1997) of the University of Osnabrück. He is a partner at the international law firm Mayer Brown LLP (Cologne office). Marius Boewe holds the Dr. jur. degree (1999) of the University of Freiburg and passed the bar exam in 2001. He is counsel with Mayer Brown LLP (Cologne office).


1. The German Civil Aviation Act in the National Context

In German legal literature, the term 'air law' (also known as 'aviation law' or 'air transport law') is often defined as the collection of special legal provisions relating to the use of the airspace, above ground level, by apparatus that are able to stay in the airspace for some time by utilizing the characteristics of the air. (1)

The German Civil Aviation Act ( Luftverkehrsgesetz ) (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') is frequently referred to as the 'Constitution of Aviation'. The legislative competence for enacting and amending this Act rests exclusively with the German Federation and not with the sixteen Federal States (Art. 73 (6) of the German Constitution). This legislative competence is not limited to pure air traffic but includes the power to regulate all issues that are, as it were, necessarily connected to aviation, such as, for example, ensuring public safety and order. The Act comprises provisions from both major categories of German law, namely public law (governing the relationship between private stakeholders and public authorities) and private law (stipulating the relations of private stakeholders amongst themselves). For instance, all requirements for permits, licences and authorizations set forth in the Act form part of public law, whereas the liability rules set forth in the Act are applicable between private stakeholders (i.e. most of the liability rules applicable in the event of aircraft accidents) and thus form part of private law.

Although the Act is recognized as the 'Constitution of Aviation', it does not govern each and every aspect of the aviation industry or the operation of aircraft. In fact, aside from the Act, there are various additional legislative acts regulating aviation, such as the Air Security Act ( Luftsicherheitsgesetz ). Moreover, there are a number of regulations containing more detailed provisions on subjects already provided for in the Act. Contrary to the Act itself, such regulations are not enacted by the legislature but by the executive (as a rule by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs). Moreover, the international dimension of aviation requires a broader context than merely national acts and regulations. Accordingly, the Act must take into account international treaties, conventions and (non-binding but recommended and generally observed) IATA standards, as well as the regulations and directives of the European Community.

To sum up, air law encompasses much more than merely the Act. Nevertheless, the Act is the basic German statute governing the most important issues relating to aviation and is therefore most definitely worth understanding if one has an interest in aviation in Germany.



(ESSENTIAL AIR AND SPACE LAW (SERIES EDITOR: MARIETTA BENKÖ), Volume 5: Markus Geisler &  Marius Boewe, The German Civil Aviation Act, Eleven International Publishing Utrecht, The Netherlands 2009, Introduction, p.1-2)


Eleven International Publishing

Eleven International Publishing


Volume 5: Markus Geisler &  Marius Boewe, The German Civil Aviation Act, Eleven International Publishing Utrecht, The Netherlands 2009

Cover picture: Barrie Rokeach/Riser/Getty Images; Aerial of an Airport Terminal