We’ve kicked off a study on the cost impacts of various quality assurance standards, and this post gives our preliminary results for modeling DO-178c and DO-254 in TruePlanning®.  DO-178c and DO-254 are standards that deal with the safety of software and electronics used in airborne systems.  It began as a standard used predominately by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for commercial aircraft, and its usage has spread significantly to the U.S. military and many other countries.

All of the software and electronics on-board an aircraft are categorized into 5 Design Assurance Levels (DAL) based on how failure of the system would affect safety, as seen below.

We wanted to understand how these standards affected the costs of developing this equipment.  Our approach was to first gather the cost guidance we could find from various sources, and then derive some factors and modeling guidance for TruePlanning® that matches these results as closely as possible.  Finally, we’ll review this guidance with our customers in the avionics industry and see how their historical costs compare, and potentially make further adjustments.

Some of the major sources we’ve looked to for cost guidance include HighRely[1], ConsuNova[2], Real-Time Innovations[3], Rockwell Collins[4] and Logicircuit[5].  The baseline costs captured from these sources are shown below:

These costs would be further adjusted by the development teams experience with DO-178/254, CMM level, and other drivers.  After calibrating our modeling guidance to best fit these numbers, we’ve come up with some preliminary comparisons:

Cost Impact Comparison - DO-178


Cost Impact Comparison – DO-254

While there are certainly some discrepancies in the cost guidance from these sources, the proposed guidance certainly has found some middle ground.  For the details of our proposed modeling guidance, or further explanation of the research approach and discussion of the numbers, please check out the draft white paper.  The next step is to compare with historical costs of our avionics customers, and see how well this guidance holds up in the scenarios they’ve encountered.  We would greatly appreciate any feedback or participation in this second phase of the study, so feel free to post a comment, email, or give us a call!


[1] Hilderman, Vance of HighRely, Inc.  “DO-178B Costs Versus Benefits.”  .  Obtained by request from http://www.highrely.com/whitepapers.php.  Retrieved December 10, 2014.

[2] ConsuNova.  “DO-254 Costs vs. Benefits”.  Obtained by request from https://www.consunova.com/do254-whitepapers.  Retrieved December 10, 2014.

[3] Real-Time Innovations (RTI).  “Saving Millions of Dollars in the Development and Certification of Safety-Critical Applications.”  http://www.rti.com/whitepapers/Save_on_Safety_Cert.pdf.  2014.  Retrieved December 17, 2014.

[4]  Thomas, Eric of Rockwell Collins.  “Certification Cost Estimates for Future Communication Radio Platforms.”  https://www.eurocontrol.int/sites/default/files/content/documents/communications/29012009-certification-cost-estimation-for-fci-platform.pdf.pdf.  January 1, 2009.  Retrieved December 17, 2014.

[5] Logicircuit, Inc.  DO-254 Effort Estimator release version 1b.  Obtained by request from http://logicircuit.com/resources/.  Retrieved September 11, 2014.