As in many other industries, avionics manufacturers saw software as a way to add value to their products and started to adapt quickly to the fast changing technology of real-time embedded software. The use of embedded software in avionics is continuously increasing but there is a great difference between avionic software and conventional embedded software – failure is unacceptable, the development process is required by law and must be highly optimized for safety. Embedded software in the avionics sector must provide comfort and agility without compromising safety.
Most nations regulate avionics, or at least adopt standards in use by other countries. Here are some of the regulatory authorities that assure safety and reliability and affects the embedded software development:
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the national aviation authority of the United States that mandates have safety and reliability standards
- The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is the European Union agency with regulatory and executive tasks in the field of civilian aviation safety.
- The European Cooperation for Space Standardization (ECSS) is an organization which works to improve standardization within the European space sector.
- The European Organisation for Civil Aviation Equipment (EUROCAE) is a non-profit organisation whose membership exclusively comprises aviation stakeholders – manufacturers, services providers, national and international aviation authorities. It develops performance specifications and other documents exclusively dedicated to the aviation community
These regulatory authorities and many more require software development standards. Some representative standards include MIL-STD-2167 for military systems, or RTCA DO-178C for civil aircraft. RTCA DO-178C Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification helps regulate the development and certification of software and the delivery of multiple supporting documents and records used on aircraft or engines.
Developers of avionics software must demonstrate compliance with guidelines such as DO-178C to assure the certifiability of their software. Certification means that the software aspects of a system must be assured to be safe. All software aspects must be developed as defined by the software certification guidelines to the level of rigor and discipline required by their criticality level, as determined by a functional hazard assessment. DO-178C provides clear guidance for some of the technologies that are being used in safety-critical systems and allows credit for modern technologies such as formal methods, object-oriented programming (OOP) languages, and model-based development.
Embedded software providers can play a crucial role in helping avionics manufacturers meeting their compliance goals, providing them:
- The insurance that all stages of the software development process are adequately documented and compliant with regulations, guidance documents and standards.
- The assurance that the development process that has been planned is progressing according to the plan.
It’s time for avionics manufacturers to work smarter and reach software quality goals without losing their market shares. Enea’s certified developers are proficient in a large number of programming languages and have an in-depth understanding of specific standards and regulations in this sector.
To read more on how the right partner for your next embedded software development project can help you meet your business objectives, visit Enea website.