This white paper, the first in a series of DO-254-related white papers, will explore the high-level concepts and activities within the DO-254 Design Assurance Guidance for Airborne Electronic Hardware specification, why they exist, and what they mean. This paper will also explain the safety-related concepts of requirements traceability, design assurance levels, the overall DO-254-compliant flow as documented in the spec, and several other aspects that might not be well documented but are critical to project approval.