I am no expert at the Development Assurance Process, but hypothetically speaking what Design Assurance Level (DAL) would a human pilot receive if they were classified as one (i.e. DAL A, B, C, D, E). It seems absurd to try and answer this question since the plane can't even leave the gate today without a pilot or pilots, but I am hoping to learn more about the DAL process thru any answers received.
I'm oversimplifying a bit, but more or less the DAL level of a piece of software is decided by asking the question, "What is the worst that could happen if this software fails to operate as designed?" Note that "failure" in this case could mean that it simply stops working, but it could also mean that it does the wrong thing, like pitch up when it should pitch down. So for example,
- The software that runs the in flight entertainment system. Worst thing that could happen has no safety effect whatsoever, therefore level E.
- The software that runs certain cockpit indicators, like the engine vibration display or engine oil temperature display: Usually considered a "major" safety effect, but not more than that, so level C.
- The software that controls the engine thrust: if that fails to set the thrust according to the pilot demand, that could result in the plane crashing, so "catastrophic effect", thus level A.
It may be a little subjective, but I'd say that if we consider the pilot to be "software", if the pilot fails, the worst thing that could happen would be "Catastrophic" condition, and thus I would label the pilot as level A software.
Edits: clarified that DO178 applies specifically to software