DO-178C In a Nutshell

If you’re reading this, it’s a safe bet that you have something to do with the aerospace industry. And it would be a safer bet that you’ve (at least) heard of what most avionics professionals consider the quintessential avionics document, DO-178C. The multifaceted and highly technical go-to guideline for all commercial software-based aerospace systems, DO-178C is vital to modern-day avionics project planning and development.

Although there are many dense details to cover, we wanted to quickly note some of the key concepts of 178C (the latest version of DO-178) and a couple ways it’s applied to today’s aerospace projects.

We’ll start with a (very) brief history of DO178C (we discuss more history of DO178 in our knowledge base).

DO-178C and its numerous companion documents—DO-278A (Ground Systems), DO-248C (Additional information with rationale for each DO-178C objective), DO-331 (Modeling), and DO-333 (Formal Methods), and many others, were created to address multiple process-based considerations within the development and practical application of aviation-related software. That primary reasoning behind all of the DO-related documents—creating a fully fortified and integrated process for the creation, production, management and use of aerospace software—addressed the myriad of methods to creating the technologies involved in avionics. DO-178C covers the most modern of those methods.

Though the structure of DO-178C follows that of its predecessor (i.e. DO-178B), it updated terms, references, and objectives, and establishes new guidelines upon which aerospace professionals should develop, test and implement their projects. Additionally, DO-178C takes advantage of technology-related supplements involving, among other concepts, model-based development (DO-331) and object-oriented techniques (DO-332), all of which were effectively new concepts to the industry at the time of DO-178C’s development. Rather smartly, DO-178C takes advantage of supplemental guides so as to minimize expansion or alteration of the core text.

DO-178C alone is not intended to guarantee software safety aspects. Safety attributes, both from a design and utilitarian or functional perspective, require numerous other system safety tasks. The purpose of these safety checks is to demonstrate a project’s ability to meet safety guidelines… makes sense. Furthermore, all key regulatory bodies (FAA, EASA, etc.) require the correct DAL be established using comprehensive analyses methods to establish the software level A-E. DO-178C actually specifies this, among many other things, as well. It should go without saying there are a numerous, often safety-critical-related topics that DO-178C covers. As such, we thought it would be a great idea to have some kind of guide or handbook that could detail these topics in an as an accessible yet comprehensive way. So, that’s what we did.

ConsuNova, along with our friends Rapita Systems, dove deep into the many specialized 178C topics to create our recently published white paper, The Handbook on DO-178C and Multi-Core Compliance. Among other things, it offers the definitive review of DO-178C in an easy-to-understand format, perfect for avionics and aerospace professionals of all levels, from beginner to seasoned pro. It includes comprehensive coverage of DO-178C processes, detailing how objectives can be met in the most efficient ways, showing you how to fulfill DO-178C compliance, and offering key considerations for multi-core compliance to CAST-32A objectives and AMC 20-193 verification.

Download the handbook here and learn more about how DO-178C can help your aerospace project reach new heights.

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