Apr 04, 2014 Aerospace & Defense

Safety certifications for UAVs

By Larry Kinnan


The recent article, “Safety certification concerns for UAVs in national airspace” points out the challenges facing the use of UAVs in the national airspace that is also occupied by a myriad of commercial airplanes and helicopters already. While we would all like to have our pizzas and books delivered to our doorstep by these amazing devices it is clear that the FAA is charged with insuring it is done in a safe and reliable manner. To insure safety the FAA requires aircraft, manned or unmanned, flying in the national airspace be certified that they meet these safe operations standards. The recent release of the standard DO-178C provides the guidance and processes as well as updates that will allow manufacturers of UAVs to make use of advanced tools and commercial off the shelf software in ways they couldn’t before due to lack of clear guidance. Added to this adoption of standards like ARINC 653 and POSIX into larger standards like the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) standard will allow for clear interface specification for components used in these systems.

Wind River has been at the forefront of these technologies and standards since 1999 when we first introduced our first VxWorks platform tested to the highest safety level of DO-178. Wind River has since introduced its industry leading VxWorks 653 platform for use in Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) which allows avionics suppliers to create systems containing multiple applications at different safety integrity levels through the use of ARINC 653 robust partitioning. VxWorks 653 is in use in over 300 programs by more than 165 customers in over 60 aircraft both commercial and military and has been certified to the highest safety levels of DO-178 in aircraft such as the Boeing’s 787. We are further extending that leadership into the area of multicore processors with our hypervisor technology which will serve as the basis for our next generation VxWorks 653 platform. Wind River has also been a leader in standards bodies such as the ARINC 653 committee and the FACE Consortium to help define and expand those standards. Wind River is committed to bringing these technologies to the world while maintaining the highest levels of safety and reliability for our products.

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