The open source software is widely used in many fields and the reuse of open source solution (OSS) brings many advantages such as low cost, fast time-to-market and no vendor lock-in. As a result, in the field of embedded critical systems like aerospace and aviation, more and more attention has been paid to OSS.
The NextGen research project – “Next Generation SDR Avionics (SDAR) for Communication, Navigation and Surveillance” is aimed at designing, developing and integrating some open source SDAMs (Software Designed Avionics Modules) that includes many systems such as ILS (Instrument Landing System) and DME (Distance Measuring Equipment), into a single hardware unit through a robust and optimized architecture – IMA (Integrated Modular Avionics), by respecting the SWaP-C (Size, Weight, Power and Cost) requirement of the aviation industry.
For modern commercial aircraft, there is no doubt that safety is the most important indicator, and the certification is considered as the guarantee of safety. However, in most cases, the open source software is not designed for using in a safety-critical background, and the certification concerns is not really the most important consideration from the beginning of the software design cycle, therefore, safety certification remains the main challenge for OSS. As part of the project, my PhD research is mainly focus on demonstrating the certifiability of open source SDAMs, and on developing some time and cost-efficient solutions for transferring the open source SDAMs to certified avionics product, which is considered as an important subject of the project.
In the global aviation industry, the protocol RTCA DO-178C “Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification” has been widely used as the main regulations for guiding the development and certification of safety-critical software. According to the standards, some DO-178C activities are automatable, so the tools that includes a set of standard-compliant automate logics can be used to replace or reduce some manual activities if the tool is qualified. Based on the standards, the research work will be mainly focused on developing and proposing a set of automatable methodologies for simplifying and accelerating the certification process of the open source SDAMs: automated development workflow such as model-based design, automated code conversion tool, automated testing and verification tool, automated document generation tool etc. The proposed methodologies and tool sets will be firstly tested on one open source module such ILS, and then be applied on the other SDAMs for validation.