The Development of Air Navigation in Germany

Part I of this document deals with the development of air navigation from 1919 onward until the end of WW II for Germany in May 1945. Part II explains the continuation in the further development of the establishment of military tactical air navigation services units beginning under the military governments of the victorious powers and the succeeding allied occupation forces in Germany. This transportation service of the first decade after the end of the war constitutes the cradle of modern European Air Traffic Control (ATC) as the major part of the overall air navigation services system.

Frank Fischer

The author of this document is German, born in 1938, an air traffic procedures and services expert of the former German Federal Administration for Air Navigation Services (BFS). During his 25-year assignment with BFS from 1957 to 1981 he served as air traffic controller at aerodrome, approach and area control units at Hamburg control tower and approach control and the Rhein Control area control center (ARTCC) of USAFE and BFS at Birkenfeld and Frankfurt, Germany, until 1972; and thereafter as ATC planner and evaluator with the BFS experimental centre Frankfurt/Main. He was responsible for the operational flight tests on the implementation of digitized radar data operations in Germany, the initiator of area navigation RNAV procedures, air traffic flow control and responsible for the operational planning of the German ATC System for the 1980s (GATC-80). After his activity with the German federal administration in working for BFS and with the USAFE (1959 to 1964) another 25 years followed in self-employed status and as director of company FSB (Air Navigation Services Advisors). He retired in 2009.

He belongs to the group of EU accredited ATM experts and joined the International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI) as a full member in 2012. As founder of ANSA in 1967, comprised of air navigation experts from 21 countries, he still acts as its president. As a holder of a USA AFCS area control license he joined the US Air Force Communicators & Air Traffic Controllers Association. In recent years he got involved in the documentation of the development of air navigation in Germany and published three reports on The Story of Rhein Control 1957 – 1977, the Development of Air Navigation in Germany 1919 – 1945 and this documentation on the development between 1945 and 1955.

The prelude to the document was written by our Association’s own Richard P. “Hank” Sauer. He was personally involved during 1948/1949 in ATC and communications during the Berlin Airlift at Tempelhof Airport (1946th AACS Sq) and Wiesbaden, Germany (1807th AACS Wing) nd Munich Riem Airport (1812 AACS Group). Our Association still has members who served At Tempelhof, Wiesbaden, Munich and Celle before, during, and after the Airlift. We still have active members who served in the Allied Berlin Safety Center and control tower operators at Tempelhof Airport and Tegel AB. Other members have served in and/or commanded communications/air traffic control units in Germany and USAFE up until and including today.

Excerpt from the Development of Air Navigation in Germany:

“… the great influence of the US Forces with its Army Airways Communication Service – AACS and the cooperating RAF on air navigation in westeurope in the first years after the war, caused by their participation at all previous fronts, becomes evident. Now, during these early postwar times AACS units are stationed at many locations in almost all westeuropean countries with functioning radio stations and navigation aids at all these locations. Many of them are mobile stations. The fixed stations are connected by message centres in applying teletype, telegraph or telephone systems. It is a network of flight routes with the associated telecommunication network covering the three western zones and beyond them all adjacent western and southern countries.

“These stations had already been considered by the USA during the last years of the war for use as a basis in expanding american aviation interests. Already in 1943 during a conference in Washington / DC AACS had accepted the task to build a network of air routes for military flights in all frontline areas by means of radio stations and navigation aids in support of combat operations and bombing missions. A precondition for such support was the set-up of a flight route network from one continent to another in order to be able to conduct the transfer of fighter and transport aircraft between North America, Europe and Africa and from thereon to the Mediterranean and Asia Minor.

“AACS constituted the backbone of all air force combat missions in the respective areas, such as in Canada, Greenland, Iceland and Great Britain for the North-Atlantic routes, South America and Africa for the link routes in the direction of the Mediterranean and beyond into Ethiopia, Egypt, Turkey, Asia Minor, Persia and the USSR (location Poltava). AACS, established in 1938 for military requirements of the USA within the own country, was no combat unit, but a support unit to the US Army Air Force – USAAF, formed by a few soldiers and many civilians. They were not armed like the combat units. Their weapons were telecommunication equipments. A large number of them were radio operators, air traffic controllers and radio technicians. Towards the end of the war AACS counted about 10.000 men, worldwide, at the beginning, during and at the end of the war consisting of mechanics, accountants, students, clerks, lawyers, drivers, bakers, candle makers, plumbers, carpenters, tax advisors, a spindle maker, room mates and a professor.”

The contents of the document are copyrighted and belong to the author, Frank W. Fischer. The document is presented on our Association web site (below) with the permission of Mr Fischer. He asks that no copies/reprints of the text be made for distribution. Published by ANSA, Kreuzlingen (Switzerland), 2015. “No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means; electronic, electrostatic, magnetic type, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without permission from ANSA. All radio navigation charts and maps shown in this publication are non-copyright under Article 5 (1) of the German law on copyright (UrhG). On the use of respective publications of the USA, ANSA refers to the corresponding rules under Title 17 U.S.C. of the USA. ANSA has tried to identify all owners of rights.”