RTCA/DO-160

Airborne Product & Equipment Standards

RTCA/DO-160 establishes standard procedures and environmental test criteria for testing airborne products and equipment for the entire spectrum of aircraft from light general aviation aircraft and helicopters through the “Jumbo Jets” and SST categories of aircraft.  This includes communication and navigation systems, which must have sufficient durability to withstand the various environmental conditions that may occur during flight. These test standards are designed to reduce the likelihood of future issues and liability problems.

DO-160 is a standard published by the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) for the environmental testing of airborne products and equipment.

This standard applies to the entire spectrum of aircraft, from light general aviation aircraft to jumbo jets, SST planes and helicopters.

This includes communication and navigation systems, which need to be durable enough to withstand the various environmental conditions that may occur during flight. It also includes items that will be used in aircraft such as medical devices.  These test standards are designed to reduce the likelihood of future issues and liability problems.

Section 4.0 – Temperature and Altitude

Temperature tests determine the performance of equipment or products used in aircraft under hot and cold temperatures from flight and hot/cold climates.

Altitude tests look at the performance effects of altitude including how loss of cabin pressure impacts equipment, cooling under low pressure and resilience to a sharp change in air pressure.

Section 5.0 – Temperature Variation

These tests investigate the assembly’s ability to survive extreme temperature swings.  Components with differing coefficients of thermal expansion are stressed.

Section 6.0 – Humidity

These tests look at the effects of high levels of humidity and an article’s ability to endure moisture effects. Moisture sensitive devices normally have trouble with this test and need some sort of protection, such as a conformal coat.  Typical failures are corrosion or rust and change of operating characteristics form absorption of moisture. 

Section 7.0 – Operational Shock and Crash Safety

These tests determine how equipment or products will continue to function properly when exposed to mechanical shocks. Crash safety tests help ensure an item does not break apart or turn into a projectile during a crash.

Section 8.0 – Vibration

This category of tests determines how equipment or items will function properly during vibration and also how they will endure vibrations during their lifetime.  The vibrations are aircraft type-dependent and the endurance levels are accelerated to reduce test duration.

Section 10.0 – Waterproofness

In these tests, the test article is subjected to various effects of water dripping or spraying scenarios to make sure it will operate fully under those conditions.

Section 11.0 – Fluids Susceptibility

This section will check if materials can withstand contamination from fluids.  The fluids in question range from sugary carbonated drinks to liquid cleaners and solvents.

Section 12.0 – Sand and Dust

These tests look at how a unit performs after being exposed to blowing sand and dust.

Section 14.0 – Salt Spray

This test checks the equipment’s ability to withstand prolonged exposure to a salt atmosphere.  The testing consists of multiple exposures to salt fog and drying.  Typical failures are corrosion, binding of moving parts.

Section 17.0 – Voltage Spike

This test checks the test article’s ability to withstand AC or DC voltage spikes to the power leads of its equipment.

Section 19.0 – Induced Signal Susceptibility

This test looks at whether the equipment interconnect circuit configuration will accept a level of induced voltages triggered by the installation environment.

Section 24.0 – Icing

This test determines the performance characteristics for equipment that needs to operate in icing conditions caused by rapid changes in temperature, humidity, and altitude. 

If you have any further questions about the RTCA/DO-160 test standard, feel free to drop us a line.