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DO-178C is the international and de facto standard for certifying all aviation safety-critical software.

The purpose of DO-178C is to provide guidance for developing airborne software systems to ensure that it performs its intended function with a level of confidence commiserate with its airworthiness requirement.

DO-178C is objective driven and companies may use a variety of means to achieve compliance as long as they meet the objectives in question. To comply with DO-178C, companies must provide multiple supporting documents and records surrounding their development processes.

Different airworthiness levels within DO-178C—A, B, C, D and E—directly correspond to the consequences of a potential software failure: catastrophic, hazardous/severe-major, major, minor or no effect, respectively.

Each software level has a defined number of objectives that need to be satisfied (some with independence). Objectives requiring independence need documentary evidence that the person verifying the item is not be the person who developed the item.

These different software level certifications also determine the rigor required in testing and other aspects of development—the most challenging of which is software verification.

DO-178C compliance involves six key processes: planning, development, verification, configuration management, quality assurance (QA) and certification liaison.

One of the significant changes in DO-178C from DO-178B is that there are four additional supplements that may be used in conjunction with the DO-178C.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)EASA and Transport Canada approve all commercial software-based aerospace systems. Through DO-178C these certification authorities emphasize that achieving compliance needs to be done in all aspects of development.

Want to learn more about DO-178C? Tonex offers DO-178C Training, a 3-day course where participants learn about the compliance aspects of DO-178C and comprehend the objectives of DO-178C as the primary means for meeting airworthiness requirements to obtain approval of software used in civil aviation products.

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.

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