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DO-254: Insights from a DER

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

An Interview with FAA Consultant DER, Randall Fulton

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with an avionics industry certification expert, FAA Consultant Designated Engineering Representative (DER), Randall Fulton. We began discussing common mistakes in DO-254 projects, and then branched out to many different areas including future of DO-254, industry engineering best practices, and his advice to organizations new to DO-254.

 

Louie: In your experience, what are the common mistakes in DO-254 projects?

Randall: Starting certification liaison activities and the SOI-1 planning audit after the design already exists.  Many projects also need to read the additional guidance from the FAA in Order 8110.105 to understand the impact and be prepared to show the data to satisfy the Order. Organizations also underestimate the resources required for a project. This includes staffing as well as managing all the data. Another common area is not appreciating the impact of effective requirements writing skills.

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Demystifying Traceability

Monday, June 17th, 2013

For DO-254 Compliant FPGAs and ASICs

I have been getting a lot of questions from our customers about traceability in the context of DO-254 and airborne FPGAs and ASICs.  It seems that there are several new concepts and terminologies associated to traceability that are new to most of us.  So I thought I would shed some light in this blog and explain the basic 5 terminologies. Also I have always liked the word “demystify”, but never had the chance to use it – so here is my chance.

Traceability – Traceability is the activity that maps all of the design and verification elements back to requirements to ensure that what is being built and tested is based on the requirements. Traceability is the correlation between system requirements, FPGA requirements, conceptual design, HDL design, post-layout design, verification test cases, testbench and test results.

Downstream Traceability – A top to bottom reporting activity that shows the mapping or correlation between system requirements, FPGA requirements, HDL design, test case, testbench and test results.  Running a downstream traceability can expose FPGA requirements that are not implemented by any HDL function or not covered by a test case.

Upstream Traceability – A bottom to top reporting activity that shows the mapping or correlation between test results, testbench, test case, HDL design, FPGA requirements and system requirements.  Running an upstream traceability can expose derived FPGA requirements or unused HDL functions.  Tools like Spec-TRACER can also use upstream traceability to expose all of the design and verification elements associated to a FAILED simulation result.

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Industry’s first Requirements Lifecycle Management for Safety-critical FPGAs and ASICs

Monday, May 20th, 2013

With the explosion of both in size and complexity of today’s FPGAs and ASICs, methodologies to efficiently manage and control requirements from concept to product rollout have never been more crucial to produce high quality and reliability products on time and within budget.  Developers of FPGAs and ASICs used for safety-critical applications face even greater challenges because of the strict requirements-based development process they have to follow to achieve industry compliance.

How do we make sure that our final product safely functions as intended? How do we manage and track requirements changes effectively?  Do the developers know what requirements changed? How do we establish and maintain traceability? Have we tested all the requirements? These are real and common questions and challenges that arise during FPGA/ASIC development for safety-critical applications.

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