The DO-254 is a formal document providing guidelines for complex airborne electronic hardware. DO-254 compliance is a basic requirement of quality assurance regarding the design, tests, and implementation of airborne systems and all relevant documentation. Basic familiarity with DO-254 is a necessity for avionics engineers.
RTCA DO-254 is published by RTCA, Inc. in the United States and has been recognized by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) since 2005. The FAA uses the document to ensure compliance with design assurance levels in avionics hardware development. Electronic hardware covered under the document includes things like circuit boards, customized coded components, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components, and any easily replaceable units. The DO-254 provides certification guidelines for hardware engineers through the planning phase all the way to verification.
DO-254 Compliance Levels
The DO-254 is broken into five compliance levels that describe the level of harm that would occur should a piece of hardware fail to function properly. These are referred to as design assurance levels. The levels cover components that would cause the most severe effects on the least and are as follows.
Level A: Failure of this hardware will prevent the aircraft’s ability to fly safely. Level A failures are catastrophic and will likely result in death.
Level B: Failures or malfunctions at this level will cause a severe condition where the crew is unlikely to be able to handle the workload of unsafe conditions. Level B failures can result in serious injuries or death.
Level C: Failures at this level create unfavorable conditions where the increased workload is likely to harm the efficiency of the crew. Level C failures may result in injuries.
Level D: Failures at this level don’t generally affect safety, but they may increase the crew’s workload.
Level E: Failures at this level don’t have notable effects on the aircraft and can be investigated upon landing.
Naturally, designing and maintaining safety-critical hardware is a must for aviation companies and aviation engineers, and having detailed design assurance guidance is the first step in ensuring safe operations.
Receiving DO-254 Training
If you need DO-254 training, you can enroll in a certification course with AFuzion. Afuzion’s training offers the most up-to-date information, as well as mentoring opportunities with experienced trainers. They also offer gap analysis, compliance checklists, and certification for other documents including the DO-178C as well as the ARP-4754A.
AFuzion has trained more people than all competitor’s current trainers combined, and they offer attendees options for public and private training. They’re also a great source of technical information to gain some basic knowledge of the world of aviation hardware development.
DO-254 Verification Process
The Do-254 provides clear verification guidelines during the hardware design process. This is to ensure that each new hardware component behaves in a way consistent with the requirements set out at the beginning of its design. This generally involves multiple tests and analyses on the component to ensure each item on its design checklist is met.
Generally speaking, there must be documentation proving that the component meets the criteria set forth during its planning phase. The relationship between results achieved by the component and the implementation of its plan must have consistent traceability. Tests must consistently return results acceptable within the component’s level of design assurance. Lastly, any errors that may occur must be correctable through a standard process.
The DO-254 also provides guidelines regarding the tools used during the design and verification process. These guidelines and best practices are necessary to ensure new hardware certification requirements are consistently met and safety-critical standards are upheld as technological advancements continue to make more things possible. A basic DO-254 course will have aspiring engineers well on their way toward understanding the aviation hardware design process.