DO-178C Costs Versus Benefits

DO-178C Costs Versus Benefits

DO-178C is not cheap, however DO-178C costs can be minimized.  This paper compares DO-178C benefits versus costs based upon criticality level and user experience/culture. Learn how to reduce DO-178C costs while obtaining improved DO-178C certification, quality, and reusability.

“DO-178 is the worst standard in the world …except for all the others.” (Vance Hilderman, 2004)

The above rewrite of Winston Churchill’s famous quote about Democracy has some truths: DO-178 is the benefactor, or bane, of avionics projects the world over. Many users complained of added costs associated with DO-178B, and DO-178C streamlines some of those costs but offsets others with increased rigor. Truly, DO-178C is never cheap, certainly not on the first project. And in clear cases outlined herein, DO-178C can increase costs above DO-178B, which already increased costs by 20-40% itself. But is DO-178C really “too” expensive? Doesn’t it actually reduce costs over DO-178B for companies who were doing it “right”? Does it reduce long-term costs at the expense of increased development cost? Will it improve safety and reliability and if so, to what degree? Exactly what benefits are received from complying with DO-178C? In what areas is DO-178C more expensive than DO-178B? These important questions are answered in this Vance Hilderman Whitepaper.

DO-178 has increasingly evolved into the de-facto standard for virtually all forms of commercial avionics except for experimental aircraft. In the past decade, DO-178B and now DO-178C are mandatory for most Military avionics. The new DO-178C made both minor and major changes; costs will definitely increase for those users taking shortcuts with the former DO-178B. However, DO-178 possesses attributes common to all safety critical domains: planning, consistency, determinism, thorough documentation and testing, and proof of the preceding attributes. Truly, DO-178 relies upon significant verification (reviews, tests, and analysis) to assess avionics quality. However, avionics quality comes from a quality process, design, and implementation, not just from testing.

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