Working Week: Ross Young delivers the goods at Qinetiq

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After a number of years with the UK's Ministry of Defence, Qinetiq's task technical manager for 'Project Julius' Ross Young is now responsible for upgrading Boeing Chinook Mk2 helicopters for the Royal Air Force

Why did you choose an aerospace-related career?

I was interested in aircraft from an early age and used to attend air shows with my father. Aeronautical engineering seemed to be a good idea; that was 21 years ago.

Which jobs have you done?

I started my career as a UK Ministry of Defence apprentice technician on helicopters (airframes/engines) and then became a design engineer (draughtsman) with the Joint Aircraft Test and Evaluation Unit at RAF Brize Norton.

ross young, qinetiq
 © Qinetiq
Young: bringing new capabilities to the RAF's Chinook helicopters

I then moved into defence procurement in Bristol, working on the future aircraft carrier and Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft projects as a mission systems engineer. My last position with the MoD was with the Royal Australian Air Force and I was seconded to Madrid for two years. I performed the role as resident integration engineer for its new tanker programme.

When I arrived at Qinetiq at MoD Boscombe Down I became a mission systems trials officer and I have been involved with helicopter and fixed-wing test and evaluation.

Were you ever interested in becoming a pilot?

Yes, but I actually applied to join the RAF as an air loadmaster when I was 19. I assumed the job would be more dynamic than just being a pilot. I was unsuccessful due to medical grounds.

How demanding are helicopter modification projects?

The modification of an existing helicopter is a very demanding task. The work involved can be more complex in comparison with a new-build aircraft project. Establishing the history and pedigree of a pre-MoD aircraft and defining what the finished product should be demands a detailed knowledge of the platform and a clear understanding of the requirements from the customer.

How important is "Project Julius" to the UK armed forces?

Project Julius is extremely important to the UK armed forces since it will bring new capabilities to an aircraft fleet that is highly relied upon in theatre. Project Julius will introduce the Chinook Mk4 into service. The aircraft will include a new glass cockpit and crew-station, both providing an improved user operating environment in addition to improved capability.

What attracted you to work at Qinetiq?

When I worked for the MoD I used to visit Boscombe Down quite often, and always imagined that I would work there one day. My options after completing my secondment to Madrid were to either return to Bristol or take a new role in MoD main building.

I knew I wanted to remain working closely with aircraft, and Qinetiq at Boscombe Down offered me that opportunity.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Being close to the aircraft and the opportunity this offers to go flying. Also, you get to work with various organisations and people. There is a very serious side to what we do, as our efforts assist those who need it the most. This can be extremely rewarding.

Describe a typical day

I arrive in the office around 08:00, then review the priorities for the day and establish their status. Technical concerns are discussed with the team and the programme manager before any action is taken. I contact the project team by phone or email. I also make a point of speaking with our aircrew. If required, I will provide a project status summary for internal review. During lunch I often watch the flying activities outside my office.

The second part of the day may involve a teleconference with various stakeholders, or climbing on board a Chinook as part of a design review.