Any aviation professional will understand the DO-178C is a valuable, and required, document when it comes to avionics software development – many in this industry like to even refer to it as a ‘bible’ of sorts. What is the DO-178C exactly and why is it important? This is what boutique company, AFuzion, dedicate their decades-worth of knowledge and expertise to training others in the avionics industry.
AFuzion has been a prominent leader in the aviation industry for over thirty years, and rightly so, as a team of engineers and managers, they combine their expertise to develop and train other engineers, pilots and managers (more than all their competitors combined) who need to be on par with, not only software, but hardware systems and the compliance thereof in any commercial airfield. The company has been a part of worldwide conferences like the Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC) and the Society of Aerospace Engineers (SAE), as well governmental associations like the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency), and various Military agencies.
Why is the DO-178C Important?
The DO-178C, which is the revised edition from the DO-178B, is also referred to as ‘Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification’. It is published by the RTCA (Radio Technical Commissions for Aeronautics) and applied by entities such as the FAA to ensure all software in airborne aircrafts will operate efficiently. It’s a de facto guideline in the aviation industry and used as a framework.
Other important considerations about the DO-178C is the DAL (Development Assurance Level), which is also understood as the ‘criticality level’. The software’s criticality level will determine the depth of thoroughness applied during its three processes, namely, Planning, Development, and Correctness. There are five DAL levels, starting from Level E as the least critical, these are also dependent on the aircraft type:
Level E – No Effect
Level D – Minor
Level C – Major
Level B – Hazardous
Level A – Catastrophic
Once the criticality level for the software is assessed (‘safety assessment’), it will be clear how to apply the DO-178 and what is required. As mentioned, there are three major processes involved during the software’s development. The Planning process consists of five key plans and three standards, which are all provided by AFuzion, and can be accessed to download from their website.
While all aircrafts will require different protocols, and the inevitable complexity of software systems will require extensive attention to detail and compliance capabilities, authorities like the FAA and EASA do not offer DO-178C plans, checklists, and standards. However, AFuzion has made resources related to all of the above available to over 300 companies, small and new in the aviation industry, and their various templates, including the key DO-178C Plan template, are used by over 7,000 engineers worldwide.
With that said, AFuzion provides whitepapers introducing the DO-178, including hardware-related avionics systems via DO-254 introduction – these are accessible to download from the website along with other free technical resources.