I want to build some software applications applied to the aviation industry and would want to know if any U.S. / FAA regulation could apply in the design of them.

I know there are some regulations when a software holds information related with finance, health or kids.

  • $\begingroup$ Great question, I'm also interested to know this. $\endgroup$ Apr 16, 2014 at 2:16
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    $\begingroup$ Could you clarify what type of software are you referring to: software containing information about aircraft, or actual avionics software in aircraft? $\endgroup$ Apr 16, 2014 at 2:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Quantas You are right. I was meaning to software containing info on databases like a pilot logbook website. $\endgroup$ Apr 16, 2014 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ @LuisArriojas You might want to edit this question into dealing with aircraft systems software (which is the direction the answers took) and ask about flight-planning and E-Logbook software in two separate questions where we can go in-depth on them. There's some interesting regulatory "fuzz" surrounding logbooks already (in the US you don't need to keep a pilot logbook except to show currency) and easily a few hundred sources on "EFB"/flight-planning software we could really dig into :) $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Apr 16, 2014 at 21:27

2 Answers 2


For simulators you have Part 60 of CFR 14

For airborne software the FAA has published AC 20-115, but the main document that refers to is the FAA/EASA RTCA DO-178/ED-12 currently at the "C" version: Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification.
If you want to certify (and thus commercialize) your software for flight, this is the main document to read.

Depending on the scope of the software and the design/development process there might be different supplements (see here):

  • DO-330 Software Tool Qualification Considerations
  • DO-331 Model-Based Development and Verification Supplement to DO-178C and DO-278
  • DO-332 Object-Oriented Technology and Related Techniques Supplement to DO-178C and DO-278A
  • DO-333 Formal Methods Supplement to DO-178C and DO-278A

It has been prepared by the RTCA/EUROCAE joint committee and approved by both FAA and EASA under different names, but the content is the same.

Note that these documents are not freely available.

  • $\begingroup$ As an aside, the European versions are available from EUROCAE for a price. $\endgroup$ May 14, 2014 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ @RedGrittyBrick you can post it in the relevant question $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    May 15, 2014 at 4:38

As a general statement, a number of software vendors making non-certified applications are sure to include big bold warnings that the software is only used to increase situational awareness and should not be relied upon for instrument conditions.

For example, the Garmin Pilot Manual has a number of disclaimers (most common sense) to remind you that it is not a substitute for other systems.

That said, as Qantas 94 Heavy pointed out, the answer is quite different for certified avionics, and that depends on which part of the FAR the aircraft is being certified under.

If you make something like an E6B app, you're probably in the clear. After all, you would have just made some calculator with preprogrammed functions.


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