DO-254 / ED-80
Latest Revision April 19, 2000
Prepared by RTCA SC-180

RTCA/DO-254, DESIGN ASSURANCE GUIDANCE FOR AIRBORNE ELECTRONIC HARDWARE is a document providing guidance for the development of airborne electronic hardware, published by RTCA, Incorporated.



[edit] Outline of contents

1. Introduction

The DO-254 standard was formally recognized by the FAA in 2005 via AC 20-152 as a means of compliance for the design of complex electronic hardware in airborne systems. Complex electronic hardware includes devices like Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), Programmable Logic Devices (PLDs), and Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs). The DO-254 standard is the counterpart to the well-established software standard RTCA DO-178B/EUROCAE ED-12B. With DO-254, the FAA has indicated that avionics equipment contains both hardware and software, and each is critical to safe operation of aircraft. There are five levels of compliance, A through E, which depend on the effect a failure of the hardware will have on the operation of the aircraft. Level A is the most stringent, defined as “catastrophic” (e.g. loss of the aircraft), while a failure of Level E hardware will not affect the safety of the aircraft. Meeting Level A compliance for complex electronic hardware requires a much higher level of verification and validation than Level E compliance.

2. System Aspects of Hardware Design Assurance

The main regulations which must be followed are requirements capturing and tracking throughout the design and verification process. The following items of substantiation are required to be provided to the FAA, or the Designated Engineering Representative (DER) representing the FAA: Plan for Hardware Aspects of Certification (PHAC), Hardware Verification Plan (HVP), Top-Level Drawing, and Hardware Accomplishment Summary (HAS)

3. Hardware Design Life Cycle

The hardware design and hardware verification need to be done independently. The hardware designer works to ensure the design of the hardware will meet the defined requirements. Meanwhile, the verification engineer will generate a verification plan which will allow for testing the hardware to verify that it meets all of its derived requirements.

4. Planning Process

5. Hardware Design Processes

  • Requirements Capture
  • Conceptual Design
  • Detailed Design

6. Validation and Verification Process

The validation process provides assurance that the hardware item derived requirements are correct and complete with respect to system requirements allocated to the hardware item.

The verification process provides assurance that the hardware item implementation meets all of the hardware requirements, including derived requirements.

7. Configuration Management Process

8. Process Assurance

9. Certification Liaison Process

10. Hardware Design Life Cycle Data

11. Additional Considerations

  • Use of Previously Developed Hardware
  • Commercial-Off-The Shelf (COTS) Components Usage
  • Product Service Experience
  • Tool Assessment and Qualification
  • Appendix A. Modulation of Hardware Life Cycle Data Based on Hardware Design Assurance Level
  • Appendix B. Design Assurance Considerations for Level A and B Functions
  • Appendix C. Glossary of Terms
  • Appendix D. Acronyms

[edit] Criticism

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[edit] Important Considerations

– Section 1.6 (Complexity Considerations) presents the definition for Simple Device.

– Table 5-1 (Typical ASIC/PLD Process Mapping) presents a process mapping very useful for practical application considering the scope of AC 20-152

[edit] Resources

  • FAR Part 23/25 §1301/§1309
  • FAR Part 27/29
  • AC 23/25.1309
  • RTCA DO-254

[edit] Certification in Europe

  • Replace FAA with EASA, JAA or CAA
  • Replace FAR with JAR
  • Replace AC with AMJ

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

  • DO-254 Web Sites
    • The DO-254 User’s Group has chapters in the US and in EU. While the charter of this group is not to write a DO-254 “A” standard, participants exchange about needs, usability of emerging technologies, dedicated solutions, training, good practices for expertise, and also provide input to the certification authorities for consideration as means of compliance in addition to the current regulatory materials.
    • is where the publication can be acquired


  1. DO-254 is now a central guide (indeed it’s only recommendations) for embedded electronic design in civil avionic industry, but also an example to follow for close industries such as defense, nuclear, transportation and medical.
    this success must be placed on the results achieved since 10 years. The level of quality, structure, rigor and professionalism reach in so few years is remarkable.

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