Code requirements/standards

To what kinds of requirements should aviation software be held? The United Kingdom Department of Defence has a set of requirements for software used in military aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration has many guidelines for writing and reviewing code, while NASA has recommended metrics to ensure adherence to specifications.

  • There are controversial code requirements from various government agencies, such as this standard from the UK Department of Defence.
  • The FAA has quite a few documents with suggested practices on writing and reviewing code for airborne systems.
  • NASA recommends using metrics during software development, but especially during the requirements phase. The report claims that the cost benefits of finding and correcting problems in the requirements phase is 14 times better than not doing so.

Analyzing/Testing Code

What kinds of analyzing and testing should be done on aviation software? The United Kingdom military believes that static code analysis is the answer. There are groups that are trying to standardize the software safety procedures.

  • A study of static code analysis to evaluate UK military avionics software. This involves studying the source code in the editor, which will hold true under all conditions.
  • The Certification Authorities Software Team (CAST) is an international group promoting standardization of certification and regulatory positions on software and complex electronic hardware aspects of safety.

Portable electronic devices

Are passengers' electronic devices dangerous on planes? The prevailing studies show that the amount of radiation from these devices is potentially, and many incidents of aviation software malfunction demonstrate this. No plane crashes have been attributed to onboard electronic devices yet.

  • This report by the House shows incidents of interference and details some restrictions put in place.
  • A study shows that portable electronic devices can disrupt normal operation of key cockpit instruments, especially Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers. Private studies show that people are illicitly using cellphones on planes and that current levels of in-flight radio frequency emissions can be dangerous. On the other hand, this post cites a study claiming cell phones don't disrupt flight systems.