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RTCA July 2021 Digest

July 19, 2021
Home / News / RTCA July 2021 Digest

RTCA/EUROCAE International Aviation Software Summit Sessions Highlight Cooperation, Compromises to Advance Industry Forward

The RTCA/EUROCAE International Aviation Software Summit was successfully held June 23rd and 24th with over 300 participants on each day. Below are some highlights from the sessions. Several of the sessions will be available on the RTCA YouTube channel. Visit https://events-rtca-eurocae.net for more details on viewing the sessions.

RTCA and EUROCAE were grateful for significant participation from EASA and the FAA for sharing their insights into the changing environment for aviation software. Highlights from the two opening sessions include:

Day 1:  A fireside chat with FAA and EASA, moderated by RTCA’s President and CEO, Terry McVenes and EUROCAE’s Director General, Christian Schleifer 

EASA’s Executive Director, Patrick Ky, began the discussion with a review of history, noting a positive, a long record of safety, but acknowledging this also means we are using older technology and standards that need review and updating.  To address this, said Ky, EASA has worked with FAA on a task force established in 2019 to determine how we can modernize using a more objective-based approach and find a way to provide more flexibility to the industry without putting our safety achievements at risk.

FAA’s Associate Administrator of Aviation Safety, Ali Bahrami, said because the current state of aviation is highly integrated and complex, the industry needs to look at shorter certification cycles and bringing new technologies into the aviation ecosystem at the earliest time possible so that standards do not become an impediment to innovation and growth.   Bahrami cautioned these times require the industry to take another look at acceptable risk.

“There’s no doubt as we move forward with automation and autonomy for certain vehicles we’re going to introduce some risk into the NAS and going forward, we need to be mindful of all that and know exactly what we’re going to be working on as we see these new entrants coming into the airspace,” said Bahrami.

Day 2:  FAA & EASA, Innovation and Accommodating New Entrants

In a discussion moderated by Christian Schleifer of EUROCAE, Di Reimold, FAA’s deputy director, Policy and Innovation, FAA Aircraft Certification Services, and Hette Hoekema, EASA’s chief expert, Avionics and Electrical Systems, examined drivers of change, opportunities, safety and reasonable risk.

Reimold first spoke on drivers of change.  She believes the industry needs to adjust expectations when it come to new entrants into the aviation ecosystem and adapting risk-based approaches, determining what the public and regulators can view as acceptable risk.  One way they are doing that at FAA is their Center for Emerging Concepts and Innovation, where partnerships between government and industry can address current and projected needs as they develop.

Hoekema noted that we need to adapt more quickly, which requires a change of mindset.  To that end, EASA has established an Innovation Network.  From the industry, Hette thinks regulations that are more risk-based need to be adopted and more flexibility is needed, and from the new entrants, they need to engage early and understand realistic expectations.

Highlights from the Industry Discussion Sessions

Below are summaries from two highly attended industry lead presentations.


Practical Software Development for Today’s Aviation Ecosystem

This panel discussion, narrated by Northrop Grumman’s Dr. Stephen Cook, took on the work of SC-240 and WG-117, diving into the differences between scrum, which empowers agile teams to build products quickly, and more traditional methods.

Andy Hoag, senior director of integrated products at Aireon, believes we need to understand the right way to apply technology, especially with the fast pace of software development.  Hoag remarked that there is wonderful interaction between RTCA, EUROCAE, ICAO and others on standards, documents and guidance that help everyone produce great products and provide services around the world.

Christopher Gabreau, software process specialist with Airbus, cautioned participants to look at the revolutionary future of this topic, as well as the incremental development process of legacy users, saying we need to accelerate action, but keep the same level of confidence in safety as we work toward faster development cycles.

Martha Blankenburger, (FAA DER) of Rolls Royce, summed up the issue of the cyclical agile method of completing projects versus linear and sequential waterfall method, concluding there are challenges and opportunities to both methodologies.  She brought up the challenge between using the traditional way of using documentation for safety critical systems with the way databases could be used by new entrants.

Alexey Kupriyanov, head of software engineering with Lilium, spoke about focusing on technology and providing a robust framework for these technologies, entries into the market and their safety-critical systems and advancing aircraft connectivity and features, trying to increase functionality.

Paving the Way to Autonomous Auto Flying (UAM, UAS)

Al Secen of RTCA moderated this discussion between Oliver Reinhardt, chief risk and certification officer, Volocopter, and Tom Ferrell, senior certification engineer and FAA DER, Joby Aviation.

Reinhardt called the aviation journey the outcome of many hard learnings and said his industry is working on preventative strategies to reach the highest level of safety.  He called for a change in the thought process to see the possibilities of autonomous flying.  Volocopter, has flown more than 1,000 manned and unmanned test flights thus far.

Ferrell described a thought exercise for his company that marries a Silicon Valley risk approach and a methodical approach to innovation and safety.  He believes agile development is possible and the level of complexity in modern software requires significant abstraction.  He urges the industry to understand layered redundancies should allow for toleration of risk and to move faster to certify.


In Summary

RTCA would like to thank the 1,000 registrants who signed up to participate in the June 2021 International Aviation Software Summit and extend a special thanks to Ali Bahrami, retiring after 42 years with the FAA.  Terry called Ali an impactful leader who changed the aviation landscape and for that, we thank you.

RTCA and EUROCAE jointly organized the International Aviation Software Summit on June 23 and 24 with 8 live sessions and 10 on-demand sessions.  Speakers and those who pre-registered for the event can view the sessions on demand by visiting https://events-rtca-eurocae.net.

Top Answers to popular Summit Poll Questions: 

RTCA and EUROCAE asked the audience about their biggest concern for new entrants incorporating existing standards into the development process:

What is the biggest concern for new entrants?

  • Not familiar with the ED12/DO-178 process 39%
  • Not tailored for new entrants’ applications 30%
  • Too expensive to implement 23%
  • Too complex to use 7%

How should the issue of risk be balanced against the introduction of new technology and new entrants into aviation?

  • It is about time to establish a proper risk-based approach, commensurate to overall risk exposure, for all applicants, regardless if new or legacy technology 42%
  • A risk-based approach should be applied to new entrant applicants with new technologies, commensurate to overall risk exposure 39%
  • Safety is paramount. New entrants with technologies should be checked 1:1 against established principles 19%
  • New entrants with new technologies should be allowed to develop their own certification path – allow to learn, also by errors 0%

Terry McVenes, RTCA President and CEO interviews Jeremy Thomas, Business Development at Reliable Robotics on current and future projects.  Jeremy discusses the importance of safety standards for autonomous technology, current projects for fixed wing and eVTOL and more. Watch Here

Committee News Header Image

                  RTCA Processes for Special Committees

RTCA develops documents according to documented processes that are reflected in the Special Committee Guidance document. This guide is available to all members via the AerOpus system, in the documents tab of the RTCA Membership Policy Group.  In addition to this guide, committee leadership and editorial teams have access to document Drafting Guides and Document Style Guides that detail the contents and “look and feel” of the documents.

By using structured processes, RTCA strives to develop documents in a consistent, open, and transparent manner, thereby increasing their acceptance by regulator agencies and industries around the world.

Some of the more well known processes that RTCA employs and are documented in the SC Guidance are:

  • how to plan and conduct plenary and working group meetings
  • rules for open plenary sessions where anyone is welcome to attend and, with prior permission, to address the committee and committee leadership
  • the open Final Review and Comment (FRAC) process that allows anyone who is interested in a document to review and comment on the proposed text before final publication
  • open access to any committee or committee meeting for active RTCA member organizations
  • shared access to the RTCA collaboration website (AerOpus) for partner organizations who are working with committees on the development of documents

These and other processes are used by RTCA to ensure our documents have a consistently high quality and usefulness to those that have interest in aviation standards. The Program Directors at RTCA review our guidance at least once a year. Look for an update in Q3 of 2021 which will be available to all member organizations.

Contact your Program Director for assistance in locating the Special Committee Guidance on the AerOpus system or for any questions regarding the contents of the guide.

DO-178C, Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment w/SupplementsSeptember 13-17, 11am-5pm est. / December 13-17, 11am-5pm est.
Airworthiness Security CertificationSeptember 27-30, 11am-5pm est.
Safety Management Systems (SMS) OverviewOctober 11-14, 1pm-5pm est.
DO-160G, Environmental TestingOctober 25-29, 11am-5pm est. / December 6-10, 11am-5pm est.
DO-254, Design Assurance Guidance for Airborne Electronic HardwareDecember 7-10, 11am-5pm est.
email: training@rtca.org for more information

RTCA Events

If you pre-registered for the International Aviation Software Summit, you can continue to access all video recordings until July 22.  Visit https://eventmobi.com/swsummit21 to view the content.

Upcoming: August 18 Webinar: A panel moderated by Carol Huegel, Gate 2 Gate Solutions, will focus on infrastructure and airport technology.  Panelists include Chris Oswald, ACI-NA, Justin Barkowski, AAAE and airport and industry professionals.

Visit: https://www.rtca.org/events/virtual-events/  for more details.

For more information about the Digest, please contact:
Name: Ka'Nika Evans
Email: kevans@rtca.org

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