As we’ve said before, the regulatory world is in constant flux. This is due to ongoing changes in technology as well as advancement and better understanding of safety-related aspects for aviation.  With all these changes, you might think that the authorities have free reign over this policy. But in reality, here in the USA, industry has a voice with regard to the oversite and regulatory process through FAA public comment, lobbying with congress, and regulatory committee participation.  The same is true in EU to some extent. Many of the changes we’re seeing in new policy is due to industry.

The FAA order 8110.105A, which provides guidance to the FAA, DERs and ODAs for regulatory information surrounding DO-254, is just one of the changes in regulatory compliance coming from the FAA.  FAA Order 8110.105A is written to supplement RTCA/DO-254, and to provide additional guidance in approval of both simple and complex custom micro-coded components.  Here is a summary of the main chapters and changes:

  • Chapter 1 introduces the purpose of the document, which is to give the certification authorities the “guidance for approving both simple and complex custom micro-coded components.” But don’t be fooled. Its not just for the authorities. Every team developing DO-254 programs would be smart to read and heed this document.
  • Chapter 2 “SEH/CEH Review Process” was restructured and removes references to the SOI #1-#4 audits and job aid.
  • Chapter 3 “Determining FAA Involvement in Hardware Projects”, has been removed as have all references to the FAA Airborne Hardware Job Aid. These changes were made due to industry pressure to allow for a more flexible approach for conducting FAA oversite reviews such as Stage of Involvement audits (SOIs).
  • Chapter 4 “Clarifying RTCA/DO-254 Topics Applicable to Both SEH and CEH” includes topics such as modifiable components, tool qualification, and COTS IP, among other topics.
  • Chapter 5 “Clarifying RTCA/DO-254 Topics Applicable Only to SEH” includes much needed clarification on what is expected if your device is Simple.
  • Chapter 6 “Clarifying RTCA/DO-254 Topics Applicable Only to CEH”, likewise clarifies many topics related to Complex devices.
  • Appendix A includes administrative information and Appendix B includes Acronyms.
  • Newly added Appendix C “Level of Involvement Worksheets” contains the worksheets for determining the Level of FAA involvement (LOFI), which is aligned with the FAA risk-based directives in Order 8040.4A.

These changes allow for a less prescriptive method for involvement for FAA, DER and ODA personnel. However, coordination and agreement on the appropriate level of involvement should be documented in your PHAC and submitted early in the program to ensure sufficient oversite and to avoid issues later.   It is a good idea to review the LOFI worksheet in Appendix C of this Order, together with your FAA or ODA representative, and to include this evaluation in the Appendix of your PHAC to show justification for the level of involvement reviews and schedule defined in your plan.

NOTE: There is 8110.105B in the works and due to be released soon (perhaps in 2023), which better aligns with the very latest policy documents of AC 20-152A and AC 00-72. To stay up to date on all the latest policy, just join our mailing list by clicking here. We will email everyone on our list when new policy documents are announced and available.