Barry Eccleston

Former CEO: Airbus America

Barry Eccleston

Alumnus Barry Eccleston was awarded an Honorary Degree in Summer 2019. Here you can read his degree oration.


I am honoured to introduce to you today, an individual who has taken his childhood fascination, applied a little Loughborough and worked incredibly hard to turn his passion into a phenomenal career.

With Airbus and Rolls Royce forming a large part of his curriculum vitae, Barry Eccleston is an admirable and influential figure in the aerospace and aviation sector.

Barry puts his fascination with aircraft down to growing up in the sixties, when they represented travel, freedom, seeing new places and meeting other people. He loved to fly and became obsessed with aeroplanes so doing an aeronautical degree seemed the natural next step.

Barry joined the Loughborough family in 1965, studying for a B Tech in Aeronautical Engineering and Design. Balancing work with play, Barry was involved in the social scene at the University as a Social Secretary for Faraday Hall. Once a month they would book local bands to play at the Students’ Union – people like Joe Cocker and Pink Floyd – having no idea that they would eventually become big names in the industry. I guess it works both ways though – Joe Cocker and Pink Floyd had no idea they were talking to an individual that would eventually become CEO and president of Airbus Americas!

As part of his four-year course Barry completed a placement with Rolls Royce, an experience that introduced him to his first employer following graduation.

Barry spent 29 years with Rolls Royce – starting out as a flight test engineer before holding increasingly senior positions with the company including President and CEO Rolls-Royce Industry Canada, and his role as President and CEO of International Aero Engines, where Rolls-Royce is one of the major shareholders.

It was this project that led to Barry making his move to the USA. He was asked to help set up a joint venture programme to build a new engine called the V2500, but they told him not to sell up in the UK just yet as they thought it would fail and he’d be back in 6 months.

Never one to turn down a challenge – Barry moved to the States, formed the company and made the engine. International Aero Engines has since gone on to become one of the world’s most successful civil aerospace programs.

Barry liked the style of business in the US – it didn’t matter who you were, everybody had the same opportunity – and Barry took every opportunity that came his way.   

He went on to hold positions at Fairchild Dornier Corporation, as Executive Vice President for Business Development and Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and then Honeywell’s Engines as Vice President of Commercial Aerospace for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Vice President and General Manager of the Propulsion Systems Enterprise.

From this he went on to secure one of the top positions in the aerospace industry, as CEO and President of Airbus Americas, where he headed up the plane makers $3 billion a year US operations. 

His influence on the industry has been remarkable – which was recognised with an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours 2019.

Although he is based in the States, Barry is heavily involved in the advancement of Loughborough, delivering guest lectures and project feedback to students and providing valuable guidance to senior management.

He thanks Loughborough for the important role the University has played in his life, but we thank him for being a truly inspirational individual to both our students and staff, and for all he has given back to his university since graduating.

Chancellor, today I have the honour of presenting to you, and to the whole University, Barry Eccleston, for the degree of Doctor of Technology, honoris causa.