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Scottish Engineer named in Debrett's 500

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  • Scottish Engineer named in Debrett's 500

    An Ayr man is on the list of Britain’s 500 Most Influential People.

    Gordon McConnell is there alongside Prince Charles, Helen Mirren, the Beckhams and Simon Cowell.

    Mr McConnell, 62, is chief engineer of the Airbus A350 XWB project, based in Toulouse, France. But he and wife Margaret still have a house in Ayr. And they aim to live in the Auld Toun when Mr McConnell retires.

    Gordon McConnell

    The Airbus 350 XWB twin-engine jetliner is said to be shaping the future of air travel.

    The aircraft’s all-new carbon fibre reinforced plastic fuselage results in lower fuel consumption, as well as easier maintenance.
    And Mr McConnell is at the helm of the aircraft’s flight and test programme.

    He is named in Debrett’s 500 – a prestigious list compiled by the renowned publishers.

    Mr McConnell said: “I really don’t know who proposed my name for Debrett’s 500. I feel very honoured to be mentioned alongside some very famous names in engineering in UK.”

    Engineers on the list include Sir James Dyson, designer of the bagless vacuum cleaner, and Ian Callum, design director for Jaguar cars.

    Former Ayr Academy pupil Mr McConnell began his career with Scottish Aviation at Prestwick.

    He joined the firm as a stress engineer in 1975, after graduating from Paisley College of Technology with an honours degree in mechanical engineering.

    Following the creation of British Aerospace, Gordon progressed through various roles to become, in 1988, chief engineer responsible for the Jetstream 41 development programme.

    He held other key posts at British Aerospace before joining Airbus Industrie in Toulouse in 1997 as chief engineer for twin aisle aircraft.

    In this post he managed the overall engineering of the A340-500/600 ultra-long range aircraft development programme, which culminated in a successful entry to service in 2002.

    He came back to the UK in 2004 as senior vice-president (engineering) at Airbus Filton. But he returned to Toulouse in 2007 to lead the engineering of the new Airbus A350XWB long range aircraft family. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of the West of Scotland in 2008.

    The A350 made its first test flights in June last year, also making a fly-past at the 2013 Paris Air Show. It will be at the Singapore Air Show this month, marking its first full display at an international trade show.

    Gordon and wife Margaret have a grown up daughter and son. Marketing excutive Amy is now mum to two young daughters, and Bruce is an RAF Typhoon pilot.