DO-254 Top Mistakes

DO-254 Top Mistakes

For persons already familiar with DO-254 facts, this paper explains common mistakes deploying DO254 and how to prevent DO-254 problems. Helpful to reduce DO-254 costs while minimizing DO-254 risks.

As all gamblers know, the number “13” is generally considered “unlucky”. When undergoing pilot training ground school, the author of this whitepaper often heard the refrain “There are old pilots, and bold pilots; but there are no old and bold pilots.” In avionics development, safety is clearly about preparation and execution, not luck nor improvisation. To avoid the most common DO-254 mistakes, preparation should begin by reading related requirements and objectives on DO-254. Then read this whitepaper to understand how to promote the best possible “luck” via good preparation and execution which avoids these unlucky 13 DO-254 mistakes.

DO-254 is often called “DO-178C’s Little Brother” and unfortunately it does bear too much resemblance to software. And you all know hardware development is virtually identical to software, surely? Not at all, and therein lies the source of the most significant mistakes with DO-254: thinking DO-178 processes fully and equally apply. DO-254 is truly subjective, vague, and software-centric; yet avionics certification typically requires conformance combined with proven high quality and reliability. DO-254’s success is elusive and complaints abound from both sides of the certification aisle from suppliers and certifying agencies. This implies for the applicant a very tight monitoring and depth control on the procurement process, in particular when procuring commercial-off-the–shelf avionics. In truth, DO-254 is rarely cost-effective in its first usage. However, the competitive landscape of avionics, both commercial and military, is just that: competitive and focused upon long-term cost effectiveness, long equipment lifetime, and continual safety. Therefore, the goal is to achieve DO-254 compliance while meeting (and hopefully surpassing) the competition. Such success requires achieving certification via the most expedient and productive path possible, while avoiding any major mistakes.

Remember, bad luck is not the cause of mistakes, just as those same mistakes are not prevented through good luck. Mistakes are the result of a lack of understanding, planning, and neglecting to apply DO-254’s true intent. As a famous golfer (not quite as famous as Mr. Carson Mandic) once said after a particularly spectacular tournament win, “Me, Lucky? Hmmm … Luck is interesting: I’ve found that the more I practice, the luckier I become!” With this Whitepaper, it is hoped that your own “luck” increases with your successful DO-254 practice.

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