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What Is DO-254 Training?

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About 23% of all fatal plane crashes since the 1950s stem from mechanical failure. Even still, there is only a 1 in 11 million chance you will die in a plane crash.

Despite these low odds, the FAA still looks for ways to reduce mechanical failure in aircraft.

One way they have of doing this is to ensure that all avionic design projects follow the same standards. The RTCA DO-254 / EUROCAE ED-80, Design Assurance Guidance for Airborne Electronic Hardware outlines these standards. The document is often referred to as the DO-254 for short.

If you want to be in today’s aeronautic design space, you need to understand how the process works. One of the best ways to learn is through a DO-254 training course. Read on to find out everything you need to know about these classes.

What is DO-254 and Why is it Important?

We have come a long way in avionics since the Wright brother’s first flight in 1903. The first plane was little more than a couple of wings and a homemade engine. It was purely mechanical with no hardware or software to speak of.

Overtime, airplanes evolved and became more complex. Today, some aviation components are so complex testing alone won’t prove they are safe. These complex components must go through extra steps to verify their safe operation.

This is where DO-254 steps in.

DO-254 is a document that provides a process and guidelines to design two things:

  • Complex aviation hardware
  • A method to ensure the safe operation of that hardware.

In 2005, the FAA recognized DO-254 as the official safety standard for all complex aviation hardware. There is a similar document for complex aviation software called RTCA DO-178C.

Who Should Take DO-254 Training?

Since the FAA adopted DO-254, it has encompassed every aspect of aviation development. You can see the document’s influence in aviation safety, design, logic, quality assurance. It has permeated the field.

For this reason, anyone who helps develop avionics hardware should at least have basic DO-254 training. This includes:

  • Engineers
  • Hardware managers
  • Quality assurance personnel
  • Certification professionals

If you have prior experience in DO-254, you may consider a more advanced training course. AFuzion’s Avionics Hardware Intermediate DO-254 Training Workshop is worth a look.

What to Expect From a DO-254 Certification Course

Most courses only take two to three days to complete. The available beginner courses vary on the specifics, but you can expect the same core itinerary across the board.

The Goals of DO-254 Explained

One of the first things you learn in a DO-254 training course is what you can achieve through its use.

Some of the most important goals of DO-254 is to:

  • Establish a method that tracks the design and verification process.
  • Develop a compliant method to make hardware with a solid verification.
  • Create a development process with consistent, duplicatable results.
  • Close management of the project through detailed reporting.
  • Complete documentation for project and certification support.

It is important to understand these goals so you can properly use the process.

Execute Hardware Planning Requirements

It would not be a DO-254 training course if you didn’t learn how to use the process. Most courses allow you to develop your DO-254 process to ensure you can use it.

The first step in creating a compliant design process is to determine the component’s harm level. In other words, if the component were to fail while in flight, how much damage could it cause?

There are five levels of harm: A through E, with A being the most severe.

Level A: If the component fails, a plane won’t be able to fly or land safely. Failure of a level A component would cause a plane to catastrophically fail.

Level B: If the component fails, it would severely limit the crew’s ability to perform their duties. This type of failure could also cause serious or fatal injuries to the crew or passengers.

Level C: If the component fails, the crew’s workload may increase to a point where they can no longer perform. This type of failure could also cause discomfort or injury to the crew or passengers.

Level D: If the component fails, the crew’s workload will increase slightly. Failure may inconvenience passengers and crew, but should not result in injury.

Level E: If the component fails, passengers are unlikely to even notice. The crew may experience an increase in their workload, but it won’t impact performance.

If you design a component with a harm level of A, your design process will be far more stringent than if it were level E. As such, your component’s harm level affects your entire design process.

How to Implement DO-254 in Your Design Workflow

The DO-254 doesn’t reinvent the wheel so much as it improves the design. As avionics get more complex, it becomes more and more difficult to test its safety.

Many avionic components are so complex you can’t verify their safety through testing and analysis alone. These components must undergo a more stringent development process. This process helps to ensure components are safe in all possible scenarios.

This part of the process teaches you how to work the DO-254 standards into your existing workflow.

Will You Attend a DO-254 Course?

Even though the FAA recognized the DO-254 document as the standard in 2005, avionics engineers are only just starting to use it. This is likely due to the fact that it is difficult to follow and costly to implement.

If you have concerns about the initial startup costs for implementing a DO-254 process, request your cost estimator today.

If you are thinking about taking a DO-254 course, please let us know in the comments below. Which course do you plan to take and why did you choose that course?

We would also love to hear about your experience if you have already taken a course. Tell us about your experience and what you learned. Where did you take the course and who taught it?

Of course, if you have any questions, let us know that too. We look forward to reading your comments soon!

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