DO-178B Aerospace Solutions
What is DO-178B?DO-178B is a rigorous safety standard used primarily for the certification of commercial avionics, although it is increasingly adopted in other industries. It provides guidance for the development of software including the development of five key plans and defines the standards for evidence of compliance for (up to) 66 development objectives, depending on the level of safety assurance required. Meeting this standard can increase development cost significantly. First time adopters of the standard routinely find 75%-150% cost increase, although Designated Engineering Representatives (DERs) find that smart adoption may limit the incremental cost of adoption to 25% - 40%.
Why do so many companies find this standard so expensive to implement?The three primary cost factors are:
Other cost factors may be avoided, if careful attention is paid to how the standard is adopted.
First, a good DER can ensure your plans meet both the stated and unstated goals for certification. A DER “works for” the FAA or certification agency when playing a DER role, even if they are actually paid by a third party company or even your own. A DER is critical for success, even though they are not explicitly required for certification. A good DER can inform you very early in development if your plans are likely to meet with approval or what areas are likely to cause problems. Avoiding rework will reduce costs immensely.
The other means by which you can reduce certification costs – assuming you have a good set of plans – are the automation of the evidence creation, strong process support, and support for quality assurance activities, audits, and reviews. The Rational DO-178B Aerospace solution addresses all of these areas to ease adoption of and compliance with the standard. On the process side, the Integrated Software Development Process for DO-178 (ISDP-178) is a subset of the Rational Harmony Process that has detailed mappings to the objectives of the DO-178B standard, so you can assess and tweak how your process complies. The Rational Method Composer (RMC) tool is a process authoring environment that both captures and publishes process content and supports customization for your project and organization.
The DO-178B process requires evidence that you comply with your plans and that the plans comply with the standard. Rational Team Concert (RTC) provides built-in project planning, project governance, change management, and work product configuration management facilities (although they can be replaced by more capable tools such as ClearCase, ClearQuest, Synergy, and Change if desired). RTC runs atop Jazz, the open source development platform that provides standard ways of integrating your tooling and processes. In fact, RTC can accept work item templates generated from your process definition in RMC to ease both project planning and governance.
DOORS, the leading requirements management tool, also runs within the RTC and Jazz environment, and automates a good deal of the onerous work required to manage requirements and traceability among project lifecycle data, such as requirements, test cases, design elements, and code. Rational Rhapsody is the state-of-the-art modeling environment for systems engineering and embedded software development. It integrates with DOORS and RTC to provide a seamless experience for creating architecture and design (which the DO-178B standard refers to as “low-level requirements”) and can even generate code that can be deployed and flown in avionics systems. Rational Quality Manager (RQM) integrates into this environment as well, automating test case development, execution, and analysis – all of which are required to meet the standard’s objectives. Rational Test Real Time (RTRT) executes the tests, including the onerous structure coverage, decision coverage, and even modified condition decision coverage (MCDC).
Rational DO-178B Aerospace solution brings the power of modern software engineering methods and tools to bear on the increasingly complex and difficult task of creating DO-178B certifiable code. For more information, see my paper on the solution and the Rational Aerospace Solution web page.
If you’re interested, I recently gave a webcast on Success with Model-Driven Development for DO-178B Projects (click on the link to see the recording). And don't forget to watch this nice video below on how aerospace companies are making smarter products.
About the author: