Insights Blog Aviation Industry & DO-178 Compliance: Pause…Think and Bring Your (Q)A Game Forward

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Aviation Industry & DO-178 Compliance: Pause…Think and Bring Your (Q)A Game Forward

It is imperative that these systems are tested against stringent yardsticks for delivering efficient performance, reliable functionality, and impregnable security.

June 9, 2021

The entire aviation industry (and not to mention the actual people on the planes) is dependent on reliable and high-quality software to avoid safety malfunctions and to guarantee benchmark performance and security standards. It goes without saying that avionics software is critical for the industry’s growth and even existence.

Aviation Management Systems also help aviation-related processes such as customer care, staff management, fleet management, records of maintenance and upgrades, etc., to run smoothly. It is imperative that these systems are tested against stringent yardsticks for delivering efficient performance, reliable functionality, and impregnable security.

Some of the common hazards in the absence of a dependable aviation management system include:

o   Flight and runway incursions

o   Fleet mismanagement

o   Bad Performance of software dependent controls

o   Data breach

o   Disruption in aviation traffic

o   Overall unpleasant customer experience

o   Over/underutilization of resources

In the past, software-induced failures have also resulted in catastrophic accidents. In late May 2015, an Airbus A400M cargo plane crashed near the Seville Airport due to erroneous data communication between the electronic control units (ECUs) and the pilots’ inputs.

Several other challenges come in the way of flight safety, such as primary flight control, autopilot engagement, fuel management, navigation, and so on. This stresses the need for robust hazard analysis and aviation planning software to figure out the possible reasons for the failure of these functions and streamline operations.

How can aviation software compliance guidelines help address these challenges?

To meet the requirements for safe air transport services, several organizations and institutions have been set up at global, regional, and local levels to develop common rules, regulations, standards, and procedures on safety and oversee their implementation throughout the aviation sector.

A significant determinant in terms of quality assurance in the aerospace industry is the DO-178 compliance for avionics software. It is a global de facto standard for certifying all airborne and aviation safety-critical software.

It is mandatory for safety-critical software used in the aerospace sector to be compliant with DO-178 B/C guidelines, to be considered flight-worthy.

What is the DO-178C compliance certification?

DO-178C is the primary document by which the certification authorities such as FAA, EASA, and Transport Canada approve all commercial software-based aerospace systems.

It is used as a yardstick for being compliant with the applicable airworthiness regulations related to the software aspects of airborne systems and equipment certification. The DO-178 requires extensive verification, i.e., reviews, tests, and analysis, to assess the quality of your avionics software.

By testing your airborne software for DO-178 compliance, you ensure that even the lowest level requirements are detailed and accurately implemented. Additionally, testing guarantees that workflows and paths are covered according to their criticality, and full traceability is provided.

Why should you be DO-178 compliant?

The DO-178C puts down some general frameworks like specifying the software lifecycle process goals, the methodological ways to fulfill these objectives, and describing the verification process to ensure that you meet these criteria.

It is crucial to maintain the safety of the consumer and the aircraft. Not just that, it optimizes the operations of an organization in the field of aviation. Therefore, any avionics software adhering to the DO-178C standard is a safer software, thereby helping you in gaining customer trust.

Some of the key benefits of testing your software for DO-178 compliance include:

  • Better coverage and therefore better software.

Any software tested for the DO-178C requirements must produce a verification report that guarantees not just an absence of errors but proof for 100% coverage of high and low-level requirements. Defect-free robust software with a focus on flawless software structure are deterministic verification aspects of the DO-178C certification. This means, foolproof in-depth test coverage for your entire software.

  • A greater clarity on requirements.

The DO-178C presses for comprehensive and detailed software requirements. This, in turn, minimizes redundancies and assumptions. Clarity also comes from a clean code, which shows traceability between requirements, code structure, and the actual test cases. Any dead code that cannot showcase this traceability is eliminated. Thus, helping you achieve accurate documentation, useful for further sprints.

  • Fewer coding iterations mean early deployment.

The DO-178 is built on a strong engineering process and follows strict discipline. That means, by following the compliance, your aviation software is more accurate and precise. As a result of consistency in requirements, there is a reduced need for iterations or rework. Therefore, implementing the DO-178 can lessen the time taken for deployment.

  • Lesser defects found during module testing.

The DO-178C is all for thorough test coverage. As a result, the module testing phase uncovers fewer bugs. After completing each module, the subsequent code reviews require standard checklists that mark all the high and low-level requirements while also tracing design. By complying with the DO-178, you can produce a perfect piece of well-tested bug-free software.

  • Improved system testing with fewer in-field defects.

Software products that comply with the DO-178C have less chance for costly defects. There is also better traceability of dependent functionalities between the hardware and software. Testing performed by experienced quality engineers on actual hardware devices establishes the root of errors, if any, that may have resulted from embedded software systems. This, in turn, helps by analyzing costly software discrepancies and fixing them early on, much before they become a cause for hardware malfunction.

How can a quality engineering partner help you in successfully achieving your DO-178 certification?

The aviation industry is increasingly dependent on the security and integrity of its software for the life and safety of people when they travel. QE companies assess airborne software systems to check whether they are safe and fix bugs to make the systems ready to achieve the compliance certificate successfully.

An expert Quality Assurance system backed by a reliable QE organization can ensure your avionics software meets every requirement to acquire the DO-178 B/C certifications successfully. When appropriately implemented, the DO-178C can be cost-effective and make your software product more viable in the aviation market.

Qualitest has experienced software testing professionals with extensive domain knowledge to assist you in ensuring DO-178 compliance of your software. Our Aerospace quality engineering experts will work with you to create safer mission-critical systems to ensure compatibility with regulatory standards, so don’t leave something critical like this “in the air” (pun intended).

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