When the Wright Brothers put their first successful plane in the air, they didn’t have any guidelines or standards to adhere to. There was no one to tell them that they needed to meet certain specs and follow federal regulations that govern the laws of aviation. They were pioneers—the first to do what they did—and they changed the world forever.
Today, billions of people take to the sky every year to travel. It’s been proven that flying is the safest mode of travel that there is. For the good of the aviation industry, flying must remain the safest way to travel. If you design parts for commercial airplanes, then you had better be precise in the design and thorough in the testing of your products. That’s what the ARP4761 safety guidelines are for. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is ARP4761?
When you’re miles up in the air, you can’t afford for anything to fail. Any major failure spells injuries and fatalities. Even minor malfunctions can have serious implications when you’re so high off the ground. Because of this, the aviation industry is heavily watched and regulated.
Any parts or products that go on a commercial airplane must undergo rigorous testing. Developers need to know what can go wrong with each part. They need to know what the overall damage is if a particular part does fail. They need to ensure that the failure of one part won’t set off a chain reaction of dependent parts failing as well.
Avionics—aviation electronics—is one of the most crucial elements of aviation engineering. The electronics systems control the plane’s mechanical features as well as allow it to communicate with the home base. Those systems cannot fail, and ARP4761 is the safety standard put forth to ensure that they don’t.
All avionics systems have to meet Aviation Safety via ARP4761 requirements in order to be certified. ARP4761 is more than just an avionics safety guideline—it’s the foundation for the Safety Assessment process of all avionics systems!
Common Cause Analysis
In most forms of mechanical engineering, the job of the engineers is to get all of the parts of a machine working in concert and cooperation. While this sounds great, when it comes to aviation, you want parts to work as independently as possible. You don’t want one part to malfunction and lead to a catastrophic failure of other elements on the aircraft, especially in-flight. Preventing that from happening is the job of common cause analysis.
Common cause analysis (CCA) includes three crucial parts that each avionics system must test for. Those three parts are Zonal Safety Analysis (ZSA), Particular Risks Analysis (PRA), and Common Mode Analysis (CMA).
Zonal safety analysis is about ensuring that each avionics system is safely installed in its zone and won’t interfere with the operations of other systems. Particular risks assessment is to ensure that an external event, like a fire, won’t compromise the independence of the system. Common mode analysis is about making sure that no one component can malfunction and shut down the whole plane.
Meeting ARP4761 Requirements
Product development is expensive enough without having to test and retest for the same failures over and over. The more experience you have at meeting Aviation Safety via ARP4761, then the more you’re able to streamline the design process. The key is to familiarize yourself with the guidelines as much as possible and test at every phase of development.
Also, there are Avionics consultant firms that do nothing more than help developers to meet Aviation Safety requirements. Some of these firms offer classes where developers can learn the ins and outs of industry standards and the rigorous analysis they must perform They partner with you to help you meet design specs, proper assessments, and safety regulations. Working with such a firm can greatly reduce the time you spend on getting your concept for an avionics system from your brain to the market.
As the aviation industry continues to evolve, you can bet that the safety standards will only become more stringent. But if you understand ARP4761, then you understand the foundation of avionics safety.