UAV’s: Applying DO-178C & Costs versus Benefits

UAV’s: Applying DO-178C & Costs versus Benefits

In the “Good Old Days”, the avionics guideline DO-178B was only informally applied to unmanned systems. But first, let’s clarify: n technology, the “Good Old Days” means 10-20 years ago. In the world of unmanned systems, “Good Old Days” means 5-10 years ago. However, the Good Old Days were rarely as good as they seemed, so the Good Old Days of Unmanned Systems had disadvantages along with those seeming advantages …

DO-178B has been replaced with DO-178C, and is now increasingly applied to (and in a growing number of cases, required for) airborne avionics within Unmanned Systems. 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 initial avionics development 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 DO-178C have favorable benefits versus costs over the lifetime of Unmanned Systems? Does DO-178C reduce long-term unmanned costs at the expense of increased development cost? Will DO-178C improve UAV safety and reliability and if so, to what degree? Exactly what benefits are received from complying with DO-178C? These important questions are answered in this AFuzion paper.

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