Introduction To DO-254

The purpose, scope and underlying hardware design process for developing airborne electronic hardware.


For almost two decades, avionics system manufacturers have only had to adhere to DO-178 for the development of airborne software. RTCA/DO-178A was recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1985 for the development of airborne software, but RTCA/DO-254 was only recognized by the FAA in 2005 for the development of airborne electronic hardware (AEH). Developers of AEH are now faced with new challenges because DO-254 is a stringent requirements-based development process that introduces new concepts and processes, enforces engineering best practices and standards, and requires applicants to produce a significant amount of life cycle data and documents. Organizations new to DO-254 may perceive it difficult and cumbersome, but experienced DO-254 practitioners perceive it as an efficient development process rooted in pure engineering best-practices for high-reliability designs.

Learning new industry standards and guidance is not a trivial pursuit; hence, in this white paper we intend to provide an introduction to DO-254 by describing its purpose, scope and underlying hardware design process. We believe that this white paper can also serve as a starting point as you embark on a long journey towards compliance. We have provided a brief description to most of the publically available DO-254 relevant documents and as well as links where you can download them. To read more, click here.