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Robust Software Engineering Researchers Win a 34th Digital Avionics Systems Conference UAS Track Best Paper Award
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Robust Software Engineering Researchers Win a 34th Digital Avionics Systems Conference UAS Track Best Paper Award

Ewen Denney and Ganesh Pai, both members of the Robust Software Engineering (RSE) technical area, co-authored a paper titled “Argument-based Airworthiness Assurance for Small UAS,” which was honored as the best paper of the Innovative Approaches Session in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) track of the 34th Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC 2015). DASC 2015 was held in Prague, the Czech Republic, from September 13-17, 2015.

This is the pair's second award for the DASC series, having won the best paper of the UAS/Air Traffic Management (ATM) session at DASC 2014. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)/American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Digital Avionics Systems Conference is the premier annual international conference encompassing the field of avionics systems for aircraft, rotorcraft, unmanned aircraft (commercial, military, business and general aviation), navigation, communications (all bands voice/sensor/data), sensors, crew interface, avionics architectures, software, and space and ground components needed for the safe operation of commercial and military aircraft, and space systems. DASC is attended by industrial practitioners, researchers, and academics, and the conference papers and plenary presentations cover all aspects of aviation from development, testing, and production, to operation and maintenance.

BACKGROUND: A combination of airworthiness and various operational restrictions are currently used to assure that UAS operations can be conducted at an acceptable level of safety. The paper presents a methodology to communicate these aspects in a unified way, providing a centralized record of Safety Risk Management (SRM) activities. Central to the approach is the notion of structured argument, i.e., an explicit chain of reasoning linking safety-substantiating evidence to overall safety and airworthiness objectives. In particular, the results of traditional hazard analysis and the safety architecture, specified using Barrier Bow-Tie (BBT) models, are transformed into structured arguments. The methodology has been exemplified by application to an Unmanned Rotorcraft System (URS), where structured, graphical arguments have been used to show the relationship between safety of URS operations and various SRM measures, including airworthiness; and in particular, a potential certification basis for type design assurance. The example illustrates how the approach can coexist with, and augment, existing safety processes by transforming SRM artifacts into assurance argument fragments.

PROGRAM FUNDING: Airspace Operations and Safety Program (AOSP) and the Integrated Systems Research Program (ISRP), Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD)

POC: Ganesh Pai, ganesh.pai@nasa.gov

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