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DO-178C and DO-200B: Afuzion Highlights the Differences

Aeronautics software engineers rely on the data available to them. The data required encompasses much more than anyone outside the field of aeronautics can imagine.

However, software designers need more than just reliable data, they require guidance to ensure that the software and equipment in airborne systems are regulated to meet the safety standards required for all airborne systems.

One of the most important compliance standards for the processing of aeronautical data is the DO-200B. This is the pillar of minimum standards and guidance for processing all aeronautical data used for the preparation, updating, utilizing, and maintaining of aeronautical systems.

On the other hand, DO-178C is a software system designed to offer all the guidelines for following regulations required to ensure the efficiency and safety of aviation software.

Understanding DO-178C

DO-178C is known as a Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification. It offers guidelines that ensure all software in aircraft is dependable and safe. Its upgraded version is the DO-178C, which was introduced in 2011, and is the accepted guideline used by most global certification bodies, including the RTCA, FAA, EASA, CAAC, etc., and so on.

There are 5 major processes specified by DO-178C and they are software planning, development, verification, configuration management, and quality assurance.

Compliance with DO-178C is crucial to ensure and maintain the safety of aircraft and the overall operations in aviation.

What is DO-200B

Aviation data is vital to system development and forms part of an ecosystem for aeronautical data certification that includes safety assessment, airborne software, and airborne hardware. However, these are also ruled by a set of recommended guidelines and regulations.

The DO-200B document was developed by more than 245 people worldwide who work in the fields of aviation product development, key certification authorities, and the military. The 77-page guideline applies to users of both large and small aeronautical data sets and different criticality levels. 

The purpose of the guidelines is to ensure data is not degraded, it is compatible with end equipment, databases are always valid, and the entire cycle of the data (origin, acceptance, and application) is covered.

DO-200B provides the guidance and minimum standards for aeronautical data used for navigation, flight planning, terrain awareness, flight simulators, and so much more. It also provides the criteria for supporting, developing, or changing any aeronautical data, ensuring data quality for the user at every step.

DO-200B is the upgrade to DO-200A and offers an increased focus on the overall aeronautical data. DO-200A was more “navigation” oriented, but DO-200B focuses on data security, aeronautical data chain, increased scope of tool qualification and DO-330, and expanded definitions. DO-200B provides the “minimum” standards, but the process encourages the user to do more.

Differences between DO-178C and DO200B

Whereas DO-178C is the intended guideline for airborne software and hardware respectively. DO-200B applies to data, and this data is not only required in aircraft, ground systems, and space-based systems but also influences aviation-related safety in fields like aircraft operations, simulation, training, planning, and so forth.

Aeronautical data is vital to scheduled updates external to the system. Some data is fully known and assessable when system certification is given, making it easier to update than other aeronautical data which is external, aiding aircraft or system certification.

Of course, the future of aviation will include new data forms that might not be covered by DO-200B yet. However, the same applies to the software and hardware guidelines for DO-178C and DO-254.

For airborne avionics, other required certification documents, like the Technical Standards Orders (TSOs), contain additional system-specific requirements.

Currently, additional data-specific aeronautical data requirements are mostly unaddressed within supporting documents. There is one notable exception – the Advisory Circular (AC) 20-153A called “Acceptance of Aeronautical Data Processes and Associated Databases.” This is an essential read for DO-200B practitioners. Data and processes require additional standards, and users of DO-200B must know that “minimum” standards are insufficient for most projects.

About AFuzion

AFuzion’s CEO is the author of two best-selling books on DO-178C and has trained thousands of engineers in various avionic guidance tools. As a unique company in the field of aeronautics, AFuzion offers critical technical knowledge. Their contributions to the industry include all training, gap analysis, checklists, templates, and whitepapers. These are developed by the specialized team of engineers at AFuzion, who are also the holders of the DO-200B paper and book copyrights.

The world-renowned safety-critical expert, Vance Hilderman, explains: “At AFuzion we created the term “overall Aviation Development Ecosystem,” and DO-200B is part of it. This system includes all airborne and ground-based software systems, and these are combined with formal safety processes.”