Re: [sc] Cost of aircraft airworthiness certification (DO-178B/ED-12B)?

Re: [sc] Cost of aircraft airworthiness certification (DO-178B/ED-12B)?

From: Agustin Arjonilla <a_arjonilla_at_xxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2009 03:34:04 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <802103.49904.qm@xxxxxx>
Dear Mike,

If you were looking for a simple answer I would say (based on my experience working in several DO-178B projects and assuming "embedded" costs already accounts for some testing and verification):

      DO-178B_Level_A_SW_Dev_cost >= 10 x Embedded_SW_Dev_cost

But that is a very simplistic way to approach your question. 

DO-178B compliance work estimates depend on several factors:

- Some of these are independent of DO-178B compliance, and are related to factors such as: the Software Development Lifecycle chosen, the experience of the team, the complexity of the functionality, and the way it has been developed and verified. More or less business as usual.

- Some others are related to the way DO-178B objectives for software life cycle processes are fulfilled. 

It should be noticed that DO-178B is a guideline which allows the application of a well-defined set of processes (i.e. planning, development, verification, configuration management, certification liaison and quality assurance) to "produce software for airborne systems and equipment that performs its intended function with a level of confidence in safety that complies with airworthiness requirements" (quoted from DO-178B).

Moreover, software levels (A to E) are defined "based upon the contribution of software to potential failure conditions as determined by the system safety assessment process. The software level implies that the level of effort required to show compliance with certification requirements varies with the failure condition category" (quoted from DO-178B). This means that the higher the criticality, the more objectives should be satisfied (and some even add requirements for independence and higher configuration management controls on the software life cycle data).

Finally, you will have to consider the tool qualification aspects. As quoted from DO-178B:
"Qualification of a tool is needed when processes of this document are eliminated, reduced or automated by the use of a software tool without its output being verified.......
.....The objective of the tool qualification process is to ensure that the tool provides confidence at least equivalent to that of the process(es) eliminated, reduced or automated."
At the end of the day, this leads to the extra cost of using qualified development and verification tools.

So, to sum up, you will have to consider the DO-178B-related extra costs of:
    1) Application of DO-178B processes in your project...
    2) ... for the required software level...
    3) ... using qualified tools.

As you can see, there is not a simple formula nor a magic one.

Please be indulgent with my comments above, I tried to give some hints to consider, not an exhaustive method.

Best regards,


Managing Director
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e-mail: aarjonilla@xxxxxx

From: Mike Elliott <hbrednek@xxxxxxm>
To: safety-critical@xxxxxx
Sent: Wed, 18 November, 2009 21:12:28
Subject: [sc] Cost of aircraft airworthiness certification (DO-178B/ED-12B)?

Of late I've heard various figures bandied about as to the cost of
certifying as airworthy a new large airplane like the Boeing 787 or
the Airbus A380.  The figures are large.  Really large.  Like "a
billion dollars, or so" just when talking about the software aspects
of certification.

That's a lot of money and any time I hear the phrase "a billion x" I'm
immediately on guard for non fact-based opinion.  But I feel that
whatever the number is (whether knowable or not) it is quite large as
compliance with the necessary DO-178B/ED-12B standard is not widely
viewed as an inexpensive exercise.

I have not been able to find any studies or fact-based opinions on
this, though, so I thought I'd ask the list if anyone is aware of cost
estimates for software compliance that are actually fact based.



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Received on Thu 19 Nov 2009 - 11:34:11 GMT