The FAA and its European equivalent, EASA, provide guidance on using standards such as ARP4754 for aircraft systems and DO-178B for flight software. These standards are often used both for civil aviation and for applications including military aircraft and land vehicles. Adoption of the standards for UAV programs is growing rapidly because of the FAA’s recent decision to require UAS and OPA certification via FAA Order 8130.34A. UAV systems are heterogeneous, and not restricted to flight software. Therefore, other standards are used, such as DO-254 for hardware and DO-278 for ground and space software.
These standards are more than a decade old, however, and are becoming out of date. For example, they lacked guidance on modern development and verification practices such as Model-Based Design, object-oriented technologies, and formal methods, at least until the new DO-178C standard was developed. The FAA and EASA have worked with aircraft manufacturers, suppliers, and tool vendors to update standards based on modern technologies. Rather than significantly modify the standards, they created technology supplement documents.
This article, published in Military Embedded Systems, provides an overview of DO-178C and ARP4754A and guidance on complying with the new standards for UAV developers who have adopted Model-Based Design.