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Today, almost all aspects of the design, production, and operation of civil aircraft are subject to extensive regulation by governments – with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and U.S. Department of Transportation being particularly watchful that avionics software safety standards are satisfied.

Heading the list of compliance standards for avionics software safety is DO-178B/C, which requires rigorous avionics software safety testing to ensure product efficiency and safety.

Published by RTCA with EUROCAE, DO-178C (Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification) is the most widely used approach for demonstrating the airworthiness of an avionics or aerospace system.

The success of DO-178C is predicated on the many benefits associated with this very necessary standard. Some of those benefits include:

  • Greater upfront requirements clarity
  • Fewer coding iterations
  • Fewer bugs found during module testing
  • Fewer defects found during integration
  • Fewer in-the-field defects 

Industry analysts also point out that developing software in accordance to Level D of DO-178C will catch many bugs, including potential security loopholes that otherwise could have been exploited.

Without question, developing safety-critical avionic software and understanding DO-178C compliance has become critical for all organizations, agencies and individuals involved in avionic software.

Safety has always been a critical factor for aviation, but with increased interconnectivity of networked systems and potential vulnerability for malicious attacks, security and safety have become even more important.

Certification is a critical element in the safety-conscious culture on which civil aviation is based. The legal purpose of avionics certification is to document a regulatory judgment that a device meets all applicable regulatory requirements and can be manufactured properly.

At another level, beneath the legal and administrative machinery of regulatory approval, certification can be regarded differently. It can be thought of as an attempt to predict the future.

New equipment proposed for certification has no service history. Certification tries, in effect, to provide credible predictions of future service experience for new devices — their influences on flight crews, their safety consequences, their failure rates and their maintenance needs.

While certification is not a perfect predictor, historically it has been quite a good one.

Want to learn more? Tonex offers Avionics Software Safety Certification, a 3-day bootcamp focusing on Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification. This course presents considerations and methods of developing and analyzing avionics software and highlights managing a software safety program. 

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.

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