European Space Agency

Software Standards Analysis for the Iris programme


The Iris Programme is developing a satellite based communication System for Air Traffic Management (ATM) purposes. In the aviation domain such a service must be certified/approved by the relevant authority, in this case the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Safety certification/approval is currently not addressed by the standards used for SW development in the early developments for the Iris Programme, and therefore these need to be complemented with standards from the aviation domain.

This project will evaluate the standards currently proposed used for the software development in the Iris programme, in addition to comparing them and defining a best-practise and methods for applying the standards.

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The main project objectives are the assessment of the compliance of the standards to the aeronautical regulations, the thorough analysis and assessment of the ED-153 standard, the comparison of the standards and the evaluation of their usage within the Iris Programme and the advice on how to apply the COTS for the different assurance levels.


Many organisations working for ESA are used to applying rigorous processes, however the requirements in the civil aviation business are in certain areas different and in some cases even more demanding. Consequently there is a need to bridge the gap between the two industrial domains.


The project will support decision making with respect to what software standards to apply in the different segments of the Iris and how adaption to these standards can be done in a cost-effective way.

Further the project will provide concrete advice with respect to utilisation of Commercial Of the Shelf (COTS) software which is a particular difficult area when it comes to safety critical systems.


The proposal of standards/tailoring will be based on comparing existing aviation and space standards, the DNV team’s practical experiences from both domains, and based on lessons learned from other ESA programs where both space and aviation based standards has been applicable.


The project will provide the following technical notes:

  • TN1: ”Assessment of the software standards compliance to regulations”
  • TN2: “Assessment of the ED-153 software standard”
  • TN3: “Evaluation of the different software standards considered within the Iris Programme”

In addition there will be a final report and an executive summary. The project shall be completed in February 2014.

Current status

A detailed comparison of the requirements found in the aviation standards ED 153, ED109A/DO278A, ED 12C/EDO178c, and in the space standards ECSS E-ST-40C and ECSS-Q-ST-80C is on-going.

Status date

Thursday, July 4, 2013 - 14:09