DO-200B Introduction

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DO-200B (and the related DO-201) are standards for avionics databases.  While DO-200B has some similarities to DO-178, DO-200B databases and tools involve much more of the development and ecosystem evolution as DO-200B avionics data must be controlled from inception through the end-user.

DO-200B, “Standards for Processing Aeronautical Data,” is a cornerstone within modern aviation. While DO-178 and DO-278 garner a greater portion of mindshare, DO-200B is the workhorse upon which all modern aircraft rely, both directly and indirectly. Why? Because DO-200B governs the means by which data necessary for safe aircraft operations is prepared, updated, utilized, and maintained. Consider the following statements and assess whether they are true or false; answers and explanations are provided within this paper:

  1. T / F: DO-200B applies to Terrain Data, Navigation Data and Engine Data.
  2. T / F: The three basic DO-200B processes are Data Quality Requirements, Data Processing Requirements, and Quality Management.
  3. T / F: The Supplier is primarily responsible for ensuring data usage integrity.
  4. T / F: : A Type 1 Letter of Acceptance requires testing on the specified avionics end-item.
  5. T / F: All Data Processing tools need to be qualified for Level 1 data.

If the above questions were truly easy, congratulate yourself on your genuine expertise. If they  weren’t so easy, then the information that follows is for you. In fact, answering the above without understanding the overall quality assurance role in DO-178C and DO-254 is trying to understand Fourier transforms without first understanding calculus: impossible for mere mortals.

To succinctly summarize, DO-200B provides guidance for the following aeronautical aspects:

  • Minimum standards and guidance for processing aeronautical data
  • Aeronautical Data defined as data used for navigation, flight planning, terrain awareness, flight simulators, etc.
  • Criteria for developing, changing, and supporting aeronautical data
  • Ultimately providing the user with assurance of data quality

“Aeronautical” applies to more than just aircraft, air traffic control, training aids, and navigation. The term “aeronautical” was chosen accordingly because it is a superset of “aircraft.” Whereas DO-178 and DO-254 are intended for airborne software and hardware respectively, DO-200B applies to data which may never be present in an aircraft but in some way influences aviation-related safety. This includes aircraft operations, simulation, training, planning, etc.

Hence the term “Aeronautical.”  However, such aeronautical data is rarely found permanently embedded within aircraft, ground, or space-based systems. Generally speaking, aeronautical data is scheduled for periodic updates external to the system(s) which utilize it. Yes, an F-35 fuel flow meter uses flash-based calibration data which can be updated, and embedded avionics can use Parameter Data Items (PDI’s) containing configuration data specific to an individual system or certification basis; but this data is fully known and assessable at the time of system certification. Aeronautical data is thus external and adjunct to such aircraft or system certification.

Contents:

  1. Minimum Standards
  2. Recommended Standards
  3. DO-200B, ARP4754A, and DO-178C

Minimum Standards

DO-200B is a modest upgrade to DO-200A, with increased focus on the overall aeronautical data (200A was somewhat more “navigation” oriented), data security, aeronautical data chain, increased scope/definition of tool qualification and DO-330, and expanded definitions/clarity.  

DO-200B provides the “minimum” standards. The user is encouraged to, and often must, do more than the “minimum” guidance provided within DO-200B. Since aeronautical data can take on so many different forms, and the future of aviation will assuredly include data forms unknown today, DO-200B cannot possibly include sufficient details for each data type. A similar situation exists for software and hardware via DO-178 and DO-254: those standards apply to virtually all airborne avionics, from bathroom lights to thrust reversers to navigation systems; the added requirements for each system type are not addressed within them.  

However, for airborne avionics, additional system-specific requirements are contained within other required certification documents such as Technical Standard Orders (TSO’s). Unlike those airborne systems, additional data-specific aeronautical data requirements are largely unaddressed within supporting documents, with the notable exception of Advisory Circular (AC) 20-153A, “Acceptance of Aeronautical Data Processes and Associated Databases,” which is a must-read for all DO-200B practitioners. It is therefore imperative for users of DO-200B to remember that the minimum standards are almost certainly insufficient for most projects: it is incumbent on the user to further elucidate additional standards specific to their data and processes.

Recommended Standards

DO-200B’s provides “recommended standards” as opposed to strict requirements. The document was developed by 245+ persons from around the world, principally from aviation product development companies but also inclusive of key certification authorities and military personnel. As with nearly all committee-based standards committees, DO-200B’s authors had to reconcile conflicting interests with an all-too-common desire to develop the impossibly perfect document, e.g. “all things to all people”. Thus DO-200B’s 77 pages apply to both large and small aeronautical data sets, different criticality levels, and different users.  

The prevailing concern is that “provable quality systems” outweigh “strict process steps” where aeronautical data is concerned. Each user must carefully consider and then analyze their contribution to safety by asking the following questions for each step within their data chain:

  • “Could their data usage fail to detect an error?”
  • “Could their data usage insert an error?”
  • “Could their data usage propagate an error?”
  • “What are answers to the above questions considering the data development and usage ecosystem and tool-chain?”

DO-200B, ARP4754A and DO-178C

The relationship of DO-200B to ARP4754A and DO–178C is  depicted in the following figure “DO-200B Ecosystem for Aeronautical Data Certification”

Figure:  DO-200B Ecosystem for Aeronautical Data Certification

 

The top four purposes of DO-200B are summarized in the following DO-200B Purposes Figure:

Figure: DO-200B Purposes

DO-200B requires planning, data requirements, processing requirements and proof of related processes; these items must then be validated and verified throughout the data-chain, beginning with data receipt and ending with data transmission. (Note that AFuzion’s DO-200B training is provided to governments and private aero data companies in 20+ countries including Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Spain, Turkey, Israel, Germany, Italy, USA, and Canada; AFuzion’s DO-200B training details for private customizable training classes are found here: https://afuzion.com/private-training/do-200b-training-aviation-database-development-and-approval-training-class/.  AFuzion also provides DO-200B audits, reviews, and mentoring:  simply email AFuzion at info@afuzion.com for details).

Both data Supplier and User share responsibility for ensuring data integrity.  Required documents for a typical DO-200B project are depicted below:

Figure: Required DO-200B Documents

The novice DO-200B aeronautical data user may easily confuse DO-200B with its predecessor, DO-178 however, as shown in the Figure below, DO-200B is quite different from the avionics software guideline DO-178:

The figure below explains what DO-200B really is, readily depicting that DO-200B is a framework for ensuring aeronautical data integrity from data inception, manipulation, processing, and transmission:

Figure: Summary of DO-200B’s Focus

DO-200B compliance requires the application of six integral processes when applying DO-200B as depicted in the figure below:

Figure: DO-200B’s Six Integral Processes for Aeronautical Data:

 

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