Land is scarce but sky has no limits!
You might think that the two fields have nothing in common. One deals with the spaces and activities on ground whereas the latter deals with the never-ending air space as sky has no limits! This is the general perception and true superficially. If one study town planning and familiarizes himself or herself with commercial aviation sector, they will come out to be very much similar in their functionality. The only and stark difference remains in the implementation of the rules ultimately getting the things done at ground level. This is where planning is nowhere to be seen.
Similarity in the needs Urban Planning & Civil Aviation
Both the sectors needs high level of sophistication and need to make use of best available technology. Highest level of coordination and real-time data and information sharing is another necessity. The differences and similarities will be explained with use of examples to make them easy to understand for people associated with both domains.
Irrespective of the scale of work (layout plan, master plan, regional plan, economic plan) the data requirements are huge. This data and required information needs to be collected from different authorities and agencies which might be working together or independently. They may or may not be controlled by government and thus acquiring information from them will result in substantial expenditure. Since planning is not a new-born profession and its been some decades it has gained importance in some parts of World, there now exist specialized and dedicated departments working to meet the requirements of planning. These include town planning or urban planning department, data collection and assimilation units, making use of census data, need based data collection and sharing with transport authorities, municipalities and other civic bodies etc. Inspite of this planning remains distant from achieving the desired goals. There is lack of coordination among departments, lack of data, outdated data, unavailability of information, lack of expertise, lack of political will and influence (reasons are not a concern here). The direct and indirect cost incurred is paid by everyone which most of the time Is not reflected immediately.
In Aviation, a similar need of data and information exist which needs to be collected from number of concerned agencies working independently and under government. The difference remains in terms of data collected. This includes the information about the lengths of runways, weather data like wind velocity, mean direction, turbulence, types and location of clouds, routes with bad weather, distance between origin and destinations, fuel requirements and availability, access to medical and emergency facilities, real-time information about other traffic etc. Without having the sufficient data it is impossible for an aircraft to take-off. In case of any error/ mistake the results are seen immediately unlike planning. The news of crash or aborted landing starts flashing on all the news channel and a team is formed immediately to inspect the incident/accident.
Flexibility at different stages
Both the sectors have provision of corrections or adjustments in case it is evident that the desired result is not achievable or continuing the ongoing work will have negative or catastrophic results. In planning feedback and monitoring was added to the planning process under rational planning model. This provided some flexibility to the otherwise rigid planning process whose outcomes were visible only after things went wrong at end. These outcomes were at times disastrous as millions of people by this time would have suffered because of faulty planning. With the advancement and adoption of technology this improved and the time required to assess and rectify the mistake became possible. Now the corrections can be made at a much early stage to minimize the negative outcomes.
In aviation also things do go wrong. This can be because of both human error or technical glitches. Both of these are unpredictable but having a mechanism in place to minimize the damage remains to be of utmost importance. Safety in aviation is given utmost priority unlike planning. The operational standards for commercial airline transport aircraft include machine failure of order 1 in a million and 1 in a billion. No such standards or any stringent provision exist in case of Planning. In case things go wrong at starting the skills of crew, presence of safety equipment, support provided by ground staff and other nearby aircraft, a dedicated search and rescue team ensures that damage is minimized. No deliberate attempt to delay any procedure is acceptable. All the concerned people and agencies swiftly takes action with minimalist unavoidable delay.