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FAA Research Project on System Complexity Effects on Aircraft Safety: Identifying the Impact of Complexity on Safety

White Paper
This report organizes our work on the impact of software complexity on aircraft safety by asking, “How can complexity complicate safety and, thus, certification?”

Software Engineering Institute


This report organizes our work to date on the topic of the effects of system complexity on aircraft safety. Hence, the bulk of this report is an appendix in progress. We have organized this work on the impact that software complexity has for aircraft safety by looking in two directions. Backward tracing asks the question, “What aspects of safety, V&V, and certification can be complicated by complexity?” Forward tracing asks the question, “What about complexity can lead to problems with certification, V&V, and flight safety?”