DO-200B Introduction

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DO-200B and the related DO-201 are compliance standards for aeronautical data. DO-200B has some similarities to DO-178, which is the main guideline for avionics software, but the databases and tools that have to comply with DO-200B are complex, multi-sourced, constantly evolving, and necessitate full control over aeronautical data from start to finish.

In other words, DO-200B, “Standards for Processing Aeronautical Data,” is a cornerstone within modern aviation. While DO-178 tends to require the most attention as the main standard for airborne software and DO-278 carries high importance as the main standard for ground and satellite-based avionics software, DO-200B remains the workhorse upon which modern aviation relies, 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 to answer, then the information that follows is for you. 

Contents:

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

Basics of DO-200B Compliance

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

  • Minimum standards and guidance for processing aeronautical data
  • Specific definitions for Aeronautical Data, for example, data used for navigation, flight planning, terrain awareness, flight simulators, etc.
  • Criteria for developing, changing, and supporting aeronautical data
  • Methods to ultimately provide assurance of high data quality
  • Criteria for assessing and “qualifying” tools used in the aeronautical data chain which automate, augment, or replace data activities previously performed manually

“Aeronautical” applies to more than just aircraft. For example, it can include air traffic control, training aids, and navigation. The term “aeronautical” was chosen accordingly to refer to data covered by DO-200B because it is a wider term than “aircraft.” Whereas DO-178 and DO-254 are intended for airborne software and hardware respectively, DO-200B applies to data that may or may not be present in an aircraft but in some way influences aviation-related safety. This includes aircraft operations, simulation, training, planning, etc.

However, such aeronautical data doesn’t just sit around in aircraft, ground, or space-based systems. It inevitably must be stored, processed, and updated externally. As a result, the data and the systems that produce and manage it must be protected. 

Minimum Standards

DO-200B is a modest upgrade to an earlier version of the standard, DO-200A. Whereas 200A focused more on navigation data, DO-200B focuses more on the general management of aeronautical data, including data security, establishing a clear aeronautical data chain, increased scope/definition of tool qualification for software covered by DO-330, and expanded definitions/clarity. 

DO-200B provides the “minimum” standards for maintaining data quality and security. The user is encouraged to, and often must, do more than the “minimum” guidance provided within DO-200B. After all, aeronautical data can take on so many different forms, and the future of aviation will assuredly include data in categories currently unknown or underutilized, such as data produced and collected through completely autonomous systems. So it stands to reason that DO-200B cannot possibly include sufficient details for each data source or format. 

A similar situation exists for software and hardware via DO-178 and DO-254. Although those standards apply to virtually all airborne avionics systems, from bathroom lights to thrust reversers to navigation systems, the added requirements for each system type are not addressed within the standards. Each type has its own more complex requirements beyond what DO-178 or DO-254 can completely address.  

Fortunately, other required certification documents such as Technical Standard Orders (TSO’s) supplement DO-178 and DO254 by laying out additional system-specific requirements for typical hardware and software systems. By contrast, aeronautical data requirements specific to each system or tool are rarely addressed within the documents that support DO-200B. 

One notable exception is the Advisory Circular (AC) 20-153A, “Acceptance of Aeronautical Data Processes and Associated Databases,” which is a must-read for all DO-200B practitioners. Since DO-200B largely stands on its own, it is particularly imperative for users of DO-200B to remember that the minimum standards are almost certainly insufficient for most projects. That means it’s up to the user to develop additional standards specific to particular data and processes to ensure the highest level of data integrity and safety.

Recommended Standards

To help users know what other standards might help maintain data integrity in these diverse systems, DO-200B also provides “recommended standards” as opposed to strict requirements. To understand how those recommendations were developed, it’s important to understand where DO-200B came from. The document was developed by more than 245 people from around the world, principally from aviation product development companies, but also inclusive of key certification authorities and military personnel. As with nearly all committees, DO-200B’s authors had to reconcile conflicting interests with an all-too-common desire to develop the impossibly perfect document that could be “all things to all people.” As a result, DO-200B’s 77 pages apply to both large and small aeronautical data sets, different criticality levels, and different users.  

The prevailing concern from the start was that “provable quality systems” should outweigh “strict process steps” where aeronautical data is concerned. In other words, the exact way the user maintains data quality is less important than the act of proving and ensuring high-quality data. Each user must carefully consider and then analyze their contribution to safety by asking the following questions for each step within their data chain, meaning the process through which data is created, maintained, stored, or managed:

  • “Could their data usage methods or tools fail to detect an error?”
  • “Could their data usage methods insert an error?”
  • “Could their data usage propagate an error based on an incorrect input?”
  • “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 of the connections of System Development

Expand

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

figure of DO-200b Purpose

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 more than 20 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Spain, Turkey, Israel, Germany, Italy, USA, and Canada. AFuzion provides private, customizable DO-200B training classes. AFuzion also provides DO-200B audits, reviews, and mentoring. Contact us to learn more.

In DO-200B, there are two main entities involved in ensuring data quality. The first is data suppliers, meaning aeronautical database providers. The second is users, meaning the manufacturing and development companies or any other entity that is making use of the data.  Both share responsibility for DO-200B compliance. The documents they use to do that for a typical DO-200B project are depicted below:

figure of the required DO-200b documents

Figure: Required DO-200B Documents

The novice DO-200B aeronautical data user may easily confuse DO-200B with DO-178, since both apply to software. However, as shown in the Figure below, DO-200B is quite different from the avionics software guideline DO-178:

figure of the DO-178 vs DO-200 evolution history

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

Summary of DO-200B’s Focus

Figure: Summary of DO-200B’s Focus

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

DO-200Bs Six Integral Processes

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

If you want to learn more about DO-200B, download the whitepaper below. 

Download Full 10+ Page DO-200B Whitepaper

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