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This month we’re furthering our discussion on top tips for your next DO-254 project. If you haven’t read part one, please go back and read part one.

The DO-254 standard is “a means of compliance for the design of complex hardware in airborne systems.” It provides guidance from project conception, planning, design, implementation, testing, and validation. As discussed last month, proper upfront education and planning can significantly ease the process of achieving DO-254 certification and approval.

This month, we continue with our top tips to aid you in completing your next project.

  1. Conduct Mock Stage of Involvement Audits
    Stage of Involvement (SOI) audits should never be entered without some deal of preparation, because even a single team member who misspeaks can bring the entire team’s pedigree into question.

    Having a mock meeting beforehand will take up more time in the short-term, but can prevent many actions and findings during the real SOI audit that would otherwise require even more time from your engineers.

  2. Understand the Tool Assessment and Qualification Process
    If you are planning on using a tool, whether it’s an in-house tool or a COTS tool that is industry standard, plan on doing a tool assessment and perhaps even a tool qualification. These can take up a lot of time and budget, and we find that many project plans omit this activity altogether.

  3. Prepare a Hierarchical Verification Plan

    During the design of electronic hardware, many artifacts are created at each level of abstraction (e.g. requirements, design documents, schematics, HDL, RTL, post-layout or post-synthesis extracted netlists). Verification should be performed at every level, which creates a verification “hierarchy”.

    When verifying artifacts at every level of abstraction, consider verification methods of: review, analysis, simulation, functional and behavioral modeling, and test.

  4. Don’t Underestimate the Work Required for COTS Components and Circuit Card Assemblies

    Especially with the issuance of additional guidance such as EASA CM-SWCEH-001, COTS components are coming under scrutiny. If you have any contractual obligations that require design assurance on COTS components, understand exactly what is needed. The additional work required can range from simply gathering and storing data sheets for simple COTS devices to performing and documenting analysis and black-box testing on complex COTS devices.

  5. If Possible, Always Verify with Independence

    Verification with independence is only required for certain Design Assurance Levels. Nevertheless, we always recommend having an independent verification team.

    The Omnicon Group develops efficient test plans and procedures to streamline testing while assuring that tests correctly and completely verify requirements in the least amount of time. We can select the most appropriate silicon-based logic type, and development environment and toolsets, prepare checklists for entry and exit criteria for design phases and review, and much more. Find out how our engineers can assist with your next DO-254 project. Contact us at info@omnicongroup.com today!

    June 26, 2017

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While testing safety-critical and reliability-critical requirements, it is important to make sure your test team is not part of the development staff, but did you know it’s also important to have an independent test team for your non-critical products as well?

An independent test team helps provide unbiased accuracy and thorough testing of each requirement that might be overlooked by someone involved during the development phase. Sometimes, simply knowing the desired outcome creates a bias towards testing, but outside test teams have an objective point of view that comes from having fresh perspectives. As a bonus, an independent team can focus solely on the test issues and will not be distracted by other duties that need to happen in the course of an employee’s day, or fear reprisal should their finding be different than a co-worker’s initial findings. Independent teams can also work in parallel with the development team, which can lead to finding a problem sooner in the process, rather than later, saving your organization budget and schedule.

When you partner with The Omnicon Group, you get over 30 years of superior engineering experience on your team. We have the knowledge and skills to streamline Verification and Validation of virtually every kind of product.

Omnicon maximizes the use of automated test equipment. We design test case procedures to be independent of other test cases, and to cover as many requirements as practical. We also write test procedures clearly and unambiguously, providing explanations wherever necessary to clarify the approach and goal of each set of procedures.

Of course, Omnicon’s services go beyond Verification and Validation. Our engineers are experienced in requirements analysis at the start of a project to assure that all requirements are consistent, complete, unambiguous and testable.

Omnicon works with your team every step of the way to ensure your product is completed with accuracy and confidence with the goals of cost efficiency and safety. Contact us to find out how we can assist with your project by emailing us at info@omnicongroup.com.

June 5, 2017

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This month, we would like to discuss the top tips for your next DO-254 project. DO-254 from the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) is still a young guidance document, and as such has a number of ambiguities. Early on, the guidance was only being applied to and scrutinized on complex airborne electronic hardware such as Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) and Complex Programmable Logic Devices (CPLDs). This meant that you could have an FPGA with very high design assurance, but an error elsewhere in the hardware project, such as on the circuit card, that could potentially go unnoticed. Because of this, a number of additional guidance documents have been released by the FAA (in the form of CAST Position papers) and EASA (in the form of Certification Memos).

A number of these additional guidance documents specify details on the design assurance required for circuit cards, Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), System On-Chip (SOC), and Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) components. It’s important to understand which of these apply to your project before you commit to a schedule and budget.

The Omnicon Group has designed, verified, and certified Complex Electronic Hardware in accordance with RTCA/DO-254 up to Design Assurance Level (DAL) A. We have experience on small projects such as a standalone FPGA or ASIC, to complex Printed Circuit Boards, Line Replaceable Units (LRUs), and systems comprised of multiple LRUs.

Below are some of our tips to look out for on your next project.

  1. DO-254 Planning is Not Project Planning
    Normal project planning is centered on resources, estimates, schedules, budgets, milestones, and risk. Planning with respect to DO-254, however, is your chance to detail all of the planned development and verification tasks and activities ahead of time, and get your customer’s buy-in.

    The saying “it’s easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission” certainly does not apply here. In the DO-254 world, you must explicitly state exactly what you plan on doing and highlight any deviations from those plans. if you make it too far into your process and the certification authorities or customer find your activities inadequate, you will have no choice but to implement corrective actions at additional cost.

    Your plans should include not only what you plan on doing, but also what you don’t plan on doing. For example, if you don’t think you need to qualify a tool you will use in development or verification, if you want to take credit for previous development or treat something as COTS, or will use a sub-tier supplier, it should all be stated early and agreed to as soon as possible.

  2. Create a Traceability Schema
    This simple task will make it very easy for your developers when the work gets started and the pressure is put on to deliver to milestones. The traceability schema should show how customer requirements link to hardware requirements, and how hardware requirements link to design elements, test cases, procedures, and results. The schema should specify which hardware lifecycle deliverable data all of this information will be presented in.

  3. Integrate DO-254 Into Your Existing Process
    We have seen development teams that treat DO-254 as a separate and disparate task from development. This occurs when there is a person or team other than the development team that is “responsible” for doing DO-254 tasks. This type of organization usually struggles with DO-254 until the entire development team is trained and has DO-254 in their minds when performing all development activities.

  4. Perform a Functional Failure Path Analysis
    Depending on whether your team has system responsibility or not, a Functional Failure Path Analysis (FFPA) can prove the DAL levels of various components in your system, and may be required for showing quantitative evidence of the failure rate of your major functions and contributors to those failures. Note that this is similar to, but not the same as, a mean between failures (MTBF), or other related reliability number, which are usually concerned with any failure, not necessarily ones that result in failure, to perform your major functions.

We will continue this discussion next month with a few more tips. In the meantime, if you’re looking for assistance with your DO-254 certification, contact us at info@omnicongroup.com today!

June 5, 2017

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Value for your money and a piece of mind; they are important considerations when you’re looking to having a product that is going to bear your name. This is why it is important to know the companies you hire have a ISO 9001 and AS 9100 Certification, a set standard in quality and customer satisfaction.

Why cut corners with an organization that may, or may not, have processes in place to ensure satisfaction? Why take risks with your reputation or leave it in the hands of an organization that hasn’t proven they can meet basic standards?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) aims to create a quality management process in manufacturing from a global perspective. An ISO 9001 certification means an organization has systematic processes in place, is able to reduce the impact should an issue occur, and have the ability to speed up recovery. In the most basic terms, an ISO Certification means there is a good solid foundation for implementing management standards and a process for control, improvement, and efficiency.

The AS 9100 certificate “drills down” on the ISO 9001 requirements and recommendations for the complex nature of aerospace and defense, highlighting the statutory and regulatory requirements decided by the International Aerospace Quality Group.

Both certifications center on a basic level of standards and having processes in place to improving the product requirements and preventative actions. Earning these certificates means a company is dedicated to quality and customer satisfaction. It means putting your product in the hands of a company that values its employee’s safety and its customer’s end product.

These values are the basis of The Omnicon Group’s commitment to exceeding the needs of our customers, and why we have achieved our ISO 9001:2008 and AS 9100 certification for all engineering and product development services.

June 2, 2017

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