Developing airborne software is much more expensive and time-consuming than developing software for our desktop computers. This expense has been a particular problem for smaller companies developing low-to-medium criticality devices, as opposed to large companies developing high-criticality devices.
The issue that makes airborne software so
is not any direct characteristic of the software as such. Rather,
the expense derives from the requirement that airborne software must be
qualified via what is known as RTCA DO-178B. It is the
effort and the associated activities that are so expensive. By
the cost of the certification effort, the overall development cost may
be reduced somewhat.
Some of the same comments apply to development
of airborne hardware, particularly those employing complex devices such
as FPGAs or ASICs. The configuration of such devices is very
similar to simple software, and so these devices must be qualified via