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DO-331: Model-Based Development and Verification Supplement to DO-178C and DO-278A

DO-331: Model-Based Development and Verification Supplement to DO-178C and DO-278A

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In the realm of safety-critical systems, the development and verification of software play a crucial role in ensuring reliable and secure operation. The avionics industry, in particular, relies heavily on standards and guidelines to establish a robust framework for the certification of software used in aircraft. The DO-178C and DO-278A standards have long been considered the gold standard for software development and verification in the aviation industry. To further enhance these standards, the Model-Based Development and Verification Supplement, DO-331, was introduced. This article provides a comprehensive overview of DO-331, highlighting its significance, key features, and benefits.

Understanding DO-331

What is DO-331?

DO-331 is a supplementary document to DO-178C (Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification) and DO-278A (Software Integrity Assurance in Air Traffic Control Systems). It addresses the use of model-based development and verification in the context of developing software for airborne systems and air traffic control systems. DO-331 provides guidance on the application of model-based techniques to meet the objectives outlined in DO-178C and DO-278A.

The Need for Model-Based Development and Verification

Model-based development (MBD) has gained significant traction in recent years as a powerful approach to developing complex software systems. MBD involves creating abstract, high-level models that capture system behavior and functionality, enabling early analysis, simulation, and verification of software designs. By leveraging MBD techniques, developers can improve productivity, reduce errors, and enhance the overall quality of the software.

However, the integration of MBD practices into safety-critical systems requires careful consideration. DO-331 fills this gap by providing guidelines for effectively incorporating model-based techniques into the development and verification processes of avionics software.

Key Features of DO-331


DO-331 is applicable to all levels of software criticality, ranging from Level A (most critical) to Level E (least critical), as defined by DO-178C. It provides guidance on how to apply model-based techniques at each level and ensures that the software satisfies the objectives of DO-178C and DO-278A.

Model-Based Development Process

DO-331 outlines a systematic model-based development process that aligns with the key principles of DO-178C and DO-278A. It provides step-by-step guidance on activities such as requirements modeling, architecture modeling, model implementation, and model verification.

Model-Based Verification

Verification is a critical aspect of software development in safety-critical systems. DO-331 emphasizes the importance of model-based verification techniques, including simulation, model checking, and testing, to ensure the correctness of the software design and implementation. It provides guidance on developing an effective verification strategy and establishing traceability between models and verification artifacts.

Tool Qualification

The use of modeling tools is essential in MBD, and DO-331 addresses the qualification requirements for such tools. It provides guidance on tool selection, tool qualification processes, and the documentation necessary to support tool qualification activities. This ensures that the tools used for model-based development and verification are suitable for their intended purpose and meet the necessary quality standards.

Benefits of DO-331

Improved Development Efficiency

By adopting DO-331, organizations can benefit from the increased efficiency offered by model-based development. The use of high-level models allows for early analysis and verification, reducing the time and effort required for manual code-based activities. Additionally, the ability to simulate and validate models can help identify design flaws and correct them at an early stage, minimizing rework and costly design changes.

Enhanced Software Quality

DO-331 promotes a rigorous approach to software development and verification. By emphasizing the use of formal methods, rigorous testing, and traceability, the supplement helps ensure that the software satisfies the safety and integrity objectives set by DO-178C and DO-278A. The application of model-based techniques aids in producing reliable and high-quality software that complies with industry standards.

Reduced Risks and Costs

The early identification of design issues and defects through model-based verification can significantly reduce the risks associated with software development. By addressing potential problems early on, DO-331 helps prevent costly rework and delays in the certification process. Moreover, the use of model-based techniques enables organizations to streamline their development processes, resulting in improved productivity and reduced costs.


DO-331, the Model-Based Development and Verification Supplement to DO-178C and DO-278A, provides essential guidance for integrating model-based development and verification techniques into the certification processes of safety-critical avionics software. By following the principles and guidelines outlined in DO-331, organizations can leverage the benefits of model-based development while ensuring compliance with industry standards. With its emphasis on efficiency, software quality, and risk reduction, DO-331 plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of software development in the aviation industry.

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