DO-160 Plan Procedure and Report
Part of the DO-160 certification process is to write the proper documentation for the testing. This documentation will include the following about RTCA DO-160 testing:
- Qualification Test Plan (QTP)
- Qualification Test Procedures (QTProc)
- Qualification Test Report (QTR)
DO-160 Qualification Test Plan (QTP)
The qualification test plan should be really simple and straightforward. This test plan should be delivered at PDR by the design authority to the aircraft manufacturer or customer.
Beyond the cover page, by lines and table of contents, the Qualification Test Plan should include a few basic things
The Qualification Test Plan should link to the Test Procedure and the Test Report. This means if you have a configuration management system you should pull all three document numbers at the same time. Link them right away in all three documents.
This is optional but pretty typical section in most documents. My only reservation with this section is that as the program evolves the system overview starts to differ from document to document. If this section is added I would suggest taking some time to write it. It will likely be replicated many times. Keep it simple, future-proof, and not document specific!
This is the meat of the document but should not go on too long. The entire document should be under 10 pages so keep this table to its essential parts.
It is important to state the requirement that affects the testing beyond the category and level. Things like bonding and shielding should be called out. If possible, it is good practice to have a generic drawing the shows the intended cable harness for testing. This diagram should include cable length (typically 3.3 meters), which lines are run together (if known), which lines are shielded, and how the unit is bonded during testing.
This is a setup example from RTCA DO-160 Section 15.0 but your example should be more detailed and not test specific. The procedure might call out specific configurations for each section.
The table of requirements is the most important. It should list out the requirements of each section. It should be simple and easy to reference. Below is an example of a subset of these requirements.
If there are additional notes, such as a custom level, I would suggest including a footnote to the table. This will keep the table straightforward and easy to read.
DO-160 Test Plan Summary
That is about all you want to include in the test plan.
- Try to keep it less than 10 pages
- Link the Qualification Test Plan, Procedure, and Report in the related documents
- Include table of all the Sections Categories and Levels
DO-160 Qualification Test Procedure (QTProc)
The test procedure should be detailed and call out every aspect of the testing. This can be anywhere from 20 – 200 pages depending on your customer and requirements.
DO-160 Procedure Structure
A good procedure will have the following sections of each test section of DO-160. Potentially you may need this structure multiple times for things like section 16.0 of DO-160 which involves many different tests and setups.
This is just a classic one or two sentence section. It can be copied for DO-160, written custom or not written at all.
This should be very short and should match your test plan exactly. If you want you can have every section just reference a table that you copy from the plan. I would discourage referencing the plans table since it is bad form to reverence sections, figures or tables in another document.
As mentioned it is good practice to write out every detail. However, if you don’t have test setup conformity or test witnessing you can and should take some liberties.
You don’t need to create figures for all test setups. I would show one or two general tests with your customer equipment. Then call out DO-160 setup figures and also reference your applicable setups. Any reasonable engineer can create the setup with these two diagrams.
Example: Setup as shown in the general setup Figure 1 and Figure 17-2 of DO-160.
Like the setup, you can leverage the steps written in DO-160 or call them out yourself. This just depends on how thorough you want to be. If you are a certified testing house like Element or TUV the technician will likely only glance at this. Most of these tests they have run hundreds of times before. I like to reference the procedure in DO-160 and call out only deviations/options. Additionally, there should be a call out for device specific details like modes of operation.
This section should call out any data to be collected. Typically this means only the data that you are collecting. The testing house will automatically provide the data required in DO-160 to ensure the test level.
There are generally three types of acceptance for a test. It is important to clarify which of the three below, is applicable for each test.
An upset tolerance test typically means that if your device issues a fail, warning and/or out of tolerance reading then the test did not pass.
An upset recovery test means that the unit can fail during the test but must pass after the stimulation is removed. A latched failure that needs to clear with the removal of power would not pass this acceptance type.
A damage tolerant test means that the unit can fail during the test but pass a formal acceptance test procedure or a modified one. The difference between this and an upset recovery test is that the unit is powered down after the test. This will allow latched failures to clear.
DO-160 Test Setup Conformity
If your customer requires test setup conformity, this will increase your costs substantially. In this case, a certified DER (designated engineering representative) will be reviewing your procedure.
You will need to ensure that every detail is spelled out in the procedure. For test setup conformity they will start with the equipment list. The DER will go through every item to make sure they are all used and called out in the procedure. It is typically not enough to call out a test fixture or power supply. A specific example should be given and as accurate as possible.
Partial example of an equipment list
Things like banana jacks and sometimes the voltage probes that plug into the Oscilloscope can be assumed to be standard and not listed. It is important to mark a note that allows for substitute equipment. If there are no requirements listed for each equipment stringent DERs can argue you need a better-than substitute. It all depends on the one you get. I would expect one day dedicated to each setup if this is your first time. * All equipment can be substituted with an equivalent equipment meeting the minimum requirements
They will redline your procedure with you. You will be expected to release these red lines in an updated version to show the true setup at the time of the test.
After the equipment checklist, they will inspect the diagram for the test being performed. They will ensure the setup is exactly detailed the way your actual test is setup. Again, you will redline the procedure until it is correct.
Typically, redlines will have three signature, the design authority (you), a quality representative from your company and the DER.
DO-160 Test Witnessing
Like DO-160 test setup conformity, DO-160 test witnessing can be a pain. Test witnessing takes over where setup conformity left off. Though test witnessing is supposed to ensure the test is being run properly if there are issues with the test the DER will help you redline your procedures to ensure your setup is correct too.
Often times the representative witnessing will be an employee of the company (Boeing or Airbus). If you have a long relationship with the customer you might be able to apply to be a witness on their behalf. If they allow this you can submit a resume of test and test witnessing experience.
My experiences with DO-160 test witnessing have been better than DO-160 test setup conformity. This is because the aircraft manufacturer employee doing the test witnessing wants both for the project to be a success and to get home as soon as possible.
Since test setup conformity is usually outsourced to a third party DER that is local the situation is quite different. They are paid by the hour and the more issues they find the more money they make. The relationship is very similar to that of a lawyer.
DO-160 Procedure Summary
The length and depth of the test procedure depends on the complexity or your requirements (conformity and witnessing), the unit under test (critical for flight), and your customer.
Proper paragraph structure and alignment with your test plan can go a long way.
DO-160 Qualification Test Report (QTR)
The good thing is that if you have written the procedure this task can be given to an intern. But, if you are like me you will want to at least write the structure before handing this off.
Copy the Test Procedure
Yes. Just start by making a copy of the test procedure leaving all the sections numbers the same. If section 3.17.6 is the voltage spike acceptance section of the procedure then the report section 3.17.6 should be the acceptance. See below.
Nothing to change here, just copied from the report.
Nothing to change here, just copied from the report.
Don’t repeat the verbiage. Just write if there were any deviations from the test setup diagram. Also, it is good to include the test setups pictures here of reverence the appendix where the pictures are.
Don’t repeat the verbiage. Just write if there were any deviations
This section should list the data collected. Attach a zip file.
State whether the test passed or failed. If the EUT failed, write details about the failure.
If you are required to do DO-254 compliance as well, you will need to write and submit the additional documents below.
- Plan for Hardware Aircraft Certification (PHAC),
- Hardware Verification Plan (HVP)
- Hardware Configuration Index (HCI)
- Hardware Accomplishment Summary
We will not focus on DO-254 certification here. If you need further information on DO-254 , Vance Hilderman and AFuzion Inc are the world’s best and largest provider of DO-254 training.
DO-160 Plan Procedure and Report Summary
- Simple and less than 10 pages
- Includes a table with each DO-160 section, test levels, and test methods
- Detailed and will be around 50-200 pages
- Conformity and Witnessing will increase the scope
- Structure the procedure according to the details above
- Easiest to start with a copy of the Procedure
- This is a test record of not only how the test was run but the results of the data
- Store all the data in the document if practical
Hope this helps and email or comment if you need any help or clarification. I have template procedures and plans if you would like to hire me to get you started. Just email me here.