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The Process of DO-254 Verification Planning for Avionics Systems!

The Process of DO-254 Verification Planning for Avionics Systems!

Modern aviation systems comprise of complex electronics hardware. A vast amount of data is generated by commercial aircrafts on a daily basis, which may include data pertaining to engine health, fuel status, rotor blade maintenance, traffic and route statistics, cockpit information, to name a few. In order to handle such a plethora of critical information, it is extremely important for aviation authorities such as the FAA to establish a standard for safe operation of the aircraft. The RTCA/DO-254, Design Assurance Guidance for Airborne Electronic Hardware and RTCA DO-178B/EUROCAE ED-12B Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification are well known set of ‘guidelines’ that need to be followed in order to ensure glitch-free and safe operation of aircrafts.

RTCA/DO-254 was first recognized in 2005 as the universal primary standard to ensure safety in electronic-airborne systems. It comprises of five levels of compliance, termed as Design Assurance Levels (DAL). The Design Assurance Levels (DAL) ranges from level ‘A’ – level ‘E’. These levels signify the severity of an issue, e.g. level ‘A’ corresponds to ‘catastrophic hardware failure’ while the level ‘E’ stands for ‘hardware failure that does not affect safety in any way’. Ensuring that level ‘A’ is taken care of is far more of an effort than level ‘E’. However with impeccable planning and an eye for details in the verification phase, all five levels can be taken care of. This helps prevent even the minutest discrepancies which if ignored, can prove to be very ‘expensive’, mainly in terms of human life.

The design and verification teams work independently. Design teams strive to ensure that the design requirements are met, while the verification team directs its efforts to ensure that the design adheres to the design specifications. Unlike other ASIC/FPGA design and verification cycles, compliance to RTCA/DO-254 standard is far more rigorous and detail oriented. Although the verification tools and procedure may be same, but the array of additional steps that need to be followed in the case of verifying an avionics ASIC/FPGA, makes it a stringent task.

 DO-254 Verification Process

Verification is done to ensure that design meets specifications. Following are the list of tasks/activities that need to be executed in ensuring a robust and stable design.

  • Define a Verification Plan – This gives a bird’s eye view of the testbench architecture as well as the methodology or standard adopted to define and execute the verification process. It enlists what ‘exactly’ needs to be tested and also drives the coverage criteria.
  • Requirements Review – This is an activity conducted by the design and verification teams in sync with each other. It is done to ensure that the design requirements have been accepted and correctly interpreted by both teams. Each requirement enlisted here, should be unambiguous, verifiable, detailed and devoid of conflicts with other design requirements.
  • Identify verification methods This includes identifying verification methods such as tests, simulation, prototyping, coverage analysis & reviews for each verifiable requirement.
  • Test Cases – These are developed and reviewed to ensure that each and every feature of the design has been exercised thoroughly. In other words, it ensures maximum possible design coverage.
  • Test Procedures – These are developed and reviewed to correctly and completely implement the Test Cases as per the Hardware Verification Plan. The Hardware Verification Cases & Procedures details, how to reproduce the test setups and execution, along with a trace matrix for complete test coverage.
  • Traceability – This is crucial to ensure that each design requirement can be marked ‘thoroughly verified’ by tracing it down to simulation results. The ‘simulation results’ can be traced back to ‘testcases’ that includes coverage and assertions. The testcases can be traced back to the ‘Hardware requirements’.
  • Code & functional coverage – This is an analysis done to ensure that each and every line of the code as well each and every feature of the design have been thoroughly exercised.
  • Documentation & Review – This step is to document and review the verification tasks. This is crucial in assessing areas that have been missed out or could be improved and to ensure if the standards have been met.

 DO-254 Compliance Implementation

The ever emerging RTCA/DO-254 requirements, pose new challenges in the development cycle of avionics products. This also makes the process of meeting and supporting level ‘A’ of the DAL requirements, an increasingly mammoth task. Top rung engineering talent at einfochips has accomplished this task, time and again. We have offered world class verification and certification services to 5 of the top 10 aircraft companies in the world.

At eInfochips, we have a team of RTCA/DO-254 experts, capable of catering to the customer’s design and verification needs based on the size and complexity of the design. Experienced and knowledgeable professionals offer streamlined yet cost-effective solutions, by studying the customer’s requirements carefully.

Major challenges lie ahead in meeting RTCA/DO-254 requirements, owing to an ever increasing demand for smarter and better designs in the avionics domain. However our adroit engineers can easily absorb and imbibe the changes, hence ensuring that the designs continue to be a ‘first time success’ and compliant to RTCA/ DO-254 standards.

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