Three members of the DornerWorks staff (Andrew Buter, Curt Stienstra, and Steve VanderLeest) presented on the topic “Agile for Aerospace” at the 2008 Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference (http://www.glsec.org). Their presentation slides on “Agile for Aerospace” is available here. The abstract for their presentation is provided below.
The aerospace industry generally develops safety-critical software according to the DO-178B standard, as dictated by the FAA. Even software for military aircraft is often developed according to this standard (or following similar military standards). Although the DO-178B standard does not prohibit non-waterfall approaches, they are almost unheard of in this industry because the standard is organized in a clearly waterfall fashion. Required artifacts (along with evidence of independence and traceability) and verification methods are all sequenced in a manner that heavily suggests a waterfall approach. Thus agile development is extremely rare in the aerospace domain. However, software development for the aerospace industry suffers all the classic problems that Agile addresses, such as changing and abstract requirements, the need for earlier feedback, the need for more predictability (i.e., fewer surprises late in the game), and the need for clearer communication between the various tiers of subcontractors in large, complex aerospace projects. In this presentation, we will look at the current state of aerospace software development and identify some of the hurdles to change. We’ll then explore specific Agile practices and show how they can map into the software development world of flight-certified software.