Richland Technologies Slashes Design and Certification Time for Advanced Avionics Systems
Richland Technologies LLC is a leading AS9100C-certified company providing full-lifecycle hardware and software engineering, safety-critical and high-integrity product development and certification services worldwide to the civil and military avionics industry.
Headquartered in Lawrenceville, Georgia, the company specialises in in-flight, cockpit display and advanced vision system development with services including safety engineering as well as design, implementation, verification and validation to meet DO-178C (software) and DO-254 (hardware) standards.
Evaluating the LDRA tool suite
Some of the world’s most reputable aviation companies rely on Richland Technologies’ high-quality, standards compliant, and cost-competitive development services, — so when the company was building its design infrastructure, they spent time comparing software verification tool suites to find the best solution.
Richland Technologies is currently using the LDRA tool suite for static analysis, unit-testing, low-level verification and structural coverage analysis of the embedded software for advanced vision systems and inertial measurement units used in standby instrument systems.
Sales and Marketing Executive Robert Atkinson outlined why Richland Technologies undertook this evaluation process, “Many of our engineers had excellent previous experience with the LDRA tool suite, however, we wanted to make sure it could continue to provide the best results as our design cycles got shorter and designs became more complex. The LDRA tool suite came out on top in our evaluation of low-level verification tools for target computer systems, and we have been using it successfully for almost 3 years now. We are currently looking at implementing even more of the modules in the LDRA tool suite as our business grows.”
LDRA Technical Support: An Invaluable Resource
Once the engineers at Richland Technologies selected the LDRA tool suite, they needed to come up to speed quickly to begin verifying designs on extremely tight schedules. They relied on the LDRA support team to help them learn the tools and integrate them with the target embedded systems.
“With most complex tool suites, it takes days to get set up using a combination of instruction manuals and the tool-provider’s technical support,” confirmed Stephen Spence, a senior avionics software engineer at Richland Technologies. “Set up almost always takes a lot longer than you expect, but we had the opposite experience with the LDRA tool suite. It took less time than we expected because we had a skilled technical support engineer there to resolve any issues quickly.”
Automation: Speeding the Verification Process and Making it (Almost) Fun!
Software development, requirements traceability and verification are monumental tasks for avionics applications. Thousands of lines of code must be written, checked and rechecked. For Richland Technologies, integrating the LDRA tool suite into their workflows automated a great deal of the verification process and dramatically reduced the verification cycle and time to certification.
“The LDRA tools automate the part of software engineering that everyone hates — the mundane, repetitive verification tasks,” Spence added. “An engineer often has to go over 1000 lines of code to ensure compliance to coding standards such as MISRA (Motor Industry Software Reliability Association). That task may take all day, if not more. Having a tool that will find 99% of coding standard violations in seconds is great.”
Stepping Up to the DO-254 and DO-178C Certification Challenge
Richland Technologies is known for its in-depth understanding of the strict requirements-driven processes mandated by the DO-254 and DO-178 standards for the development of commercial airborne electronic systems. According to the company’s engineers, the LDRA tool suite and documentation are extremely well matched to safety-critical design flows and in-house methodologies that help achieve standards certification in much shorter timeframes. Particularly valuable features of LDRA include:
Well organised web page-based output highlighting code coverage and static analysis results achieved during low level verification
Rapid regression analysis
Structural coverage results
Robust static analysis capability
Extensive unit tests
Easy integration into the DO-178C design flow
“Achieving DO-254 and DO-178C certification using manual methods or with other tools would be a struggle, especially when you have to make design changes, then go back and verify the impact those changes make,” stated Adam Simpson, media and marketing manager at Richland Technologies. “The LDRA tools streamlined and simplified the process and helped us to produce the level of code quality that our customers demand in record time.”
LDRA tool suite Facilitates Design and Customer Collaboration
Choosing verification tools that are also part of their customers’ design flows further enhances Richland Technologies’ collaborative approach to customer engagement.
“When we work with multi-billion dollar aviation companies who also use LDRA tools, it’s much easier to collaborate,” Atkinson stated. “For example, we were working on a remote data concentrator unit design with a large European avionics company and were able to easily pass data back and forth between our teams in Atlanta and Europe. “This is not an uncommon way of working, but the more collaborative you can be, the easier it is to complete the design and efficiently meet certification requirements.”