What Is DO-178C Testing?

In most industries, there is some form of regulation in order to ensure that common standards and best practices…
an airplane wing in the sky

In most industries, there is some form of regulation in order to ensure that common standards and best practices are met. These sorts of regulations ensure that proper protocols contribute to a safer and more effective world, and are particularly important in the aviation and aeronautics sector. Clearly, with so many high profile stories about Boeing and the safety of aircraft, meeting these standards has become even more relevant in 2020. One aspect of regulation involves specialized software testing applied to all software developed for implementation in aircraft and aeronautics. DO-178C testing ensures that these programs are up to the challenge of being implemented in the real world, and is a vital part of airline safety. Here’s a quick primer on DO-178C testing and how it plays a role in improving safety in the air.

DO-178C is the documentation that all major regulatory agencies in the aviation sector use to ensure proper protocol is followed for aeronautical software. The Federal Aviation Association, as well as Transport Canada and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, use this documentation in order to approve commercial software for use in aviation. Each level is used to determine the rigor necessary for testing and replication and is based on how severe the side effects of software failure are. For example, the most severe failure condition is a Level A failure, or catastrophic failure. From there, in descending order, Level B stands for hazardous failure, Level C stands for a major failure, Level D stands for minor failure, and Level E stands for no safety effects. Each level has a different number of objectives and tests that must be independently verified in order for the software to be approved. For example, a Level A, or catastrophic, safety level requires over seventy objectives to be verified by thirty independent testers. On the low-end, however, a minor failure condition must only be verified by two independent testers and has just twenty-six objectives.

Even though Level D requires very few independent testers to verify safety protocols are met, there is still some rigor involved in getting qualified to test each piece of software. DO-178C testing is complicated to administer, and so it behooves must engineers to go through proper DO-178C training if they want to be able to properly test a piece of software. Getting private training from a company like AFuzion can be particularly helpful since AFuzion’s publications for engineers on aeronautical safety are widely used in the industry. Additionally, a company like AFuzion can offer one-on-one instruction that walks you or your engineers through different avionics applications based on your unique industry. This kind of customization draws upon dozens of proprietary white papers and best-in-class guides that truly offer your engineers a deep dive into how to implement DO-178C testing in your industry. If you want the peace of mind that your engineers are receiving top of the line training that is built from the ground up on sound technical knowledge, tapping the expertise from a company like AFuzion can be exactly what your business needs to keep safety standards high.

As you can see, there are multiple standards that DO-178C testing is responsible for. Having a piece of software that has been rigorously tested is crucial to making aviation and aeronautics a safer industry on the whole. DO-178C training exists to help software developers and those in the aviation sector follow best practices and ensure the safety of airline pilots as well as all staff members that interact with the onboard computer systems. As such, going through DO-178C training from a company like AFuzion can be a major boon for anyone wanting to instill more confidence and safety in their aeronautics business.