Boeing suspends testing of long-haul 777X aircraft

Above, a wing spar assembly robot for the 777x aircraft in Boeing’s Everett, Washington facility in this October 23, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 07 September 2019

Boeing suspends testing of long-haul 777X aircraft

  • The 777X was originally scheduled to take off on its first test flight this summer
  • That date has been postponed until early 2020 by Boeing, due to problems with its General Electric engine

NEW YORK: Boeing has suspended testing on its new long-haul 777X aircraft, the company said Friday, a setback that comes as it battles to rebound from the crisis surrounding the 737 MAX.
The so-called “final load” tests are part of the aircraft certification process, overseen by inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and meant to subject the plane to “loads and stresses well beyond normal operational loads,” a Boeing spokesman said in an email.
“During final load testing on the 777X static test airplane, the team encountered an issue that required suspension of the test,” the spokesman said.
“The testing conditions were well beyond any load expected in commercial service. The event is under review and the team is working to understand root cause.”
A source close to the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity said a door of the plane blew out during the test.
Such an occurrence is rare during final load testing, an industry source said.
The 777X was originally scheduled to take off on its first test flight this summer. That date has been postponed until early 2020 by Boeing, due to problems with its General Electric engine.
The company spokesman declined to say whether the latest setback would further delay the schedule.
The FAA investigates issues that come up during structural testing of aircraft, the agency said.
During these tests, the plane is placed under extreme stress to verify its structural strength. To check the wings, for example, a system of fasteners is connected which allow examiners to bend them up and down.
Traditionally, these tests push the aircraft to the breaking point estimated by the manufacturers, and are essential to obtain certification from regulators.
The suspension of the testing for the 777X comes as Boeing is in the process of completing changes required by regulators on the 737 MAX, which has been grounded worldwide after two crashes that resulted in 346 deaths.
Civil aviation authorities have stepped up their inspections since the disasters, most notably the FAA, which has been accused of cozy ties with Boeing.
In an effort to reinforce its independence, the US regulator has become much more detailed and demanding, according to industry sources interviewed by AFP.
Boeing’s 777X, which is meant to replace the 777 and can carry 400 to 425 passengers, has already been ordered by eight airlines, including Emirates.
It is meant to compete with the A350 of European manufacturer Airbus.
Up until Friday, industry experts had said the first deliveries of the 777X probably would not take place before 2021 because the test flight period and approval process should be extended, due to the delays caused by the engine issue.


UBS fined $51 million by Hong Kong regulator for overcharging clients

Updated 11 November 2019

UBS fined $51 million by Hong Kong regulator for overcharging clients

  • Hong Kong regulator’s investigation exposed ‘serious systemic internal control failures’ at the bank
  • In March, the Securities and Futures Commission banned UBS from leading initial public offerings in Hong Kong for a year

HONG KONG: Swiss bank UBS was fined HK$400 million ($51.09 million) by Hong Kong’s securities regulator for overcharging up to 5,000 clients for nearly a decade, the watchdog said on Monday.
The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said in a statement that an investigation found UBS had overcharged clients on ‘post-trade spread increases’ and charges in excess of standard disclosures and rates between 2008 and 2017.
THE SFC said the investigation exposed ‘serious systemic internal control failures’ at the bank. UBS had failed to disclose conflicts of interests and had overcharged some clients in ‘opaque’ trades, it said.
The overcharging affected 5000 Hong Kong managed client accounts in about 28,700 transactions, it said.
UBS has also agreed to repay the clients HK$200 million, the SFC said.
The regulator said the over-charging occurred in the bank’s wealth management division on bond and structured notes transactions.
UBS was found to have increased the spread charged after the execution of a trade without the clients’ knowledge, it said.
In the statement, the SFC said UBS was also found to have falsified some account statements which were issued to financial intermediaries who were authorized to trade for the clients to “conceal the overcharges.”
UBS said the issues were ‘self-reported’ to the SFC and the results found were against the bank’s standard practice.
“The relevant conduct predominantly relates to limit orders of certain debt securities and structured note transactions, which account for a very small percentage of the bank’s order processing system,” the bank said in a statement.
SFC chief executive Ashley Alder said while each “overcharge represented a fraction of each trade” the bank’s “misconduct involved decisions and a pervasive abuse of trust resulting in significant additional revenue for UBS to which it was not entitled.”
In March, the SFC banned UBS from leading initial public offerings in Hong Kong for a year after it found the bank, and some of its rivals, had failed to carry out sufficient due diligence on a number of deals.
UBS was fined HK$375 million while Morgan Stanley was fined HK$224 million, Merrill Lynch HK$128 million and Standard Chartered (StanChart) HK$59.7 million, all for failures when sponsoring, or leading, public market floats.