The Hardest Part Of DO-254 Is…

To successfully implement DO-254, organizations must be prepared to make a big change.


The hardest part of DO-254 is not the requirements. It’s not the design. It’s not the verification.

We just wrapped up this year’s 3-day DO-254 Practitioner’s Course, and each year I learn something new. In this year’s training we had attendees from major aerospace companies including Curtiss Wright, Rolls Royce, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Thales and Woodward. It’s always a pleasure to meet the aerospace folks and learn about their projects, goals and challenges. This is the fifth year we’ve done these trainings and each time I pick up subtle points from the instructor showing his impressive expertise in the subject.

This year’s subtle point that I picked up is about the hardest part of DO-254.

The hardest part of DO-254 is the cultural change that needs to take place in order for the organization to successfully comply to DO-254. This can be the make or break of the project. It doesn’t matter if you have top-notch planning documents if no one will adhere to them. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written 1000+ page requirements document, but the verification engineers cannot use them because the requirements are not verifiable. It doesn’t matter if you have the best design standards if your designers would not abide by them. It doesn’t matter if you have the latest verification tools but no one in your team understands how to satisfy tool assessment and qualification. It doesn’t matter if you have the most comprehensive review checklists if your reviewers will not use them and document the review activities and results.

DO-254 is a collection of industry best practices and all of its processes are tightly integrated, but it doesn’t matter if you have the DO-254 processes tightly in place if your team members will not abide by them. The hardest part of DO-254 is the cultural change that needs to be embraced by all team members. The cultural change is what can get you.

Many organizations new to DO-254 are eager to jump on board and start applying DO-254 to their projects due to its high demand in the avionics industry. You might be ready to take the leap and make the cultural change yourself, but is the rest of your team and organization ready for the cultural change?