Section: Application Domains


In avionics, an aircraft can be seen as an environment full of sensors (e.g., accelerometers, gyroscopes, and GPS sensors) and actuators (e.g., ailerons and elevator trim). For example, a flight guidance system controls the aircraft using data produced by sensors. In a critical platform such as an aircraft, software systems have to be certified. Moreover the safety-critical nature of the avionics domain takes the form of stringent non-functional requirements, resulting in a number of challenges in software development:

  • Traceability. Traceability is the ability to trace all the requirements throughout the development process. In the avionics certification processes, traceability is mandatory for both functional and non-functional requirements.

  • Coherence. Functional and non-functional aspects of an application are inherently coupled. For example, dependability mechanisms can potentially deteriorate the overall performance of the application. The coherence of the requirements is particularly critical when the software evolves: even minor modifications to one aspect may tremendously impact the others, leading to unpredicted failures.

  • Separation of concerns. Avionics platforms involve the collaboration of several experts (from low-level system to software, safety, QoS), making requirements traceability significantly more challenging. Providing development methodologies that allow a clear separation of concerns can tremendously improve traceability.

Our approach consists of enriching a design language with non-functional decalarations. Such declarations allow the safety expert to specify at design time how errors are handled, guiding and facilitating the implementation of error handling code. The design is also enriched with Quality of Service (QoS) declarations such as time constraints. For each of these non-functional declarations, specific development support can be generated. We have validated this approach by developing flight guidance applications for avionics and drone systems.