Set by the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA), DO-178B ensures that every line of code in an embedded airborne system is verified and tested and that its requirements conform to strict standards of accuracy, consistency, verifiability, and compatibility with the target computer. With an emphasis on project management and Software Engineering, DO-178B focuses on development processes and their objectives.
In DO-178B, "software" pertains to all drivers, Board Support Package (BSP), real-time operating system (RTOS), libraries, graphics, and application software. Developing software for safety-critical certification applications involves considerably more documentation, up-front requirements-based design, requirements traceability, testing, and verification.
Tools for DO-178B\ED-12B certification can be categorized as either
development tools that will produce code that will fly in the aircraft or
verification tools that will be used as part of the certification process to verify or check steps but will not produce code that will fly in the aircraft.
Tool qualification requires demonstrating a tool's conformance with DO-178B\ED-12B in the same way that the developer's end product is to be certified.
Concerning the qualification of software development tools, DO-178B\ED-12B goes further to state that the development processes for such tools should satisfy the same objectives as the software development processes for airborne software. As a result, the software level assigned to the tool should be the same as the level for the airborne software that it produces.
Presagis and DO-178B Compliance
Presagis VAPS XT-178 and VAPS QCG are qualifiable under DO-178B and are used to develop safety-critical embedded graphics for airborne applications. Using these tools, a user can automate or reduce the level of effort spent on certification, reductions that can only be achieved by using qualifiable development tools. Specific users have indicated that time savings of up to 70-80% across an entire project is not an unrealistic metric, which includes such factors as the number of engineers working on the project, user experience, and the complexity of the actual application being built.