Few aircraft have evoked the kind of emotions the 737 MAX has in so many people. There’s been a lot of talk in the aviation world about whether or not Boeing would rename the 737 MAX program. While Boeing still advertises the latest generation of the Boeing 737 as the “MAX,” recent hints have shown that Boeing may be open to a bit of renaming for the type.
A new order for the MAX drummed up some talk of renaming
Almost since the aircraft was first grounded, there was talk about Boeing renaming the 737 MAX lineup. President of the United States, Donald Trump, weighed in by saying Boeing should rebrand the aircraft type. And, earlier this year in January, a major Boeing 737 MAX customer wanted the MAX branding dropped from the aircraft calling it “damaged.” Ryanair, another major MAX customer, also appeared to drop the MAX branding last year.
Throughout this, Boeing has remained committed to the MAX branding. But, an order for 737 MAX 8s earlier this month raised some eyebrows with Boeing calling the MAX 8 as the “Boeing 737-8.” While Boeing did mention the MAX branding, it was only in relation to the family and not specific aircraft.
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Why a name change would make sense
Most people in and out of the aviation world have heard of the Boeing 737 MAX. The problem is, a lot of the news from the past year has been pretty negative since the two entirely fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. With Boeing and regulatory agencies around the world, including the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transport Canada, and others, the plane has been grounded for over a year, and it continues to stretch on with some anticipating the type to return to service later this year.
But, for people outside of the aviation world, most people are unaware that the MAX has also been known, granted on a much lesser scale, as the 737-8 or 737-9. So, when a customer goes to book a flight with this negative perception of the MAX in their head and they read “737-8” or “737-9” as the type of plane operating, unless they searched for more information, they probably would not recognize it as a MAX jet. Thus, they may continue with their booking on that itinerary.
The problem with a name change
While it is easy to see Boeing or its customers take on the 737-8 or 737-9 branding, it becomes a little less straightforward when talking about the family of aircraft. For example, there is the 787 Dreamliner family comprised of the 787-8, 787-9, and 787-10. Then, there is the 777X family of 777-8 and 777-9.
But what would you call the 737-8, 737-9, and 737-10 family? In the press release for the Enter Air order for 737-8 jets this month mentioned above, Boeing called the family as a whole the “MAX.” Unless Boeing was to find a different name for the family, MAX might have to stick around.
For now, however, Boeing continues to use the MAX name in its investor documents, results, and commercial branding page. And, plenty of customers are still using MAX to describe the aircraft on their pages.
A middle ground
Boeing seems content with the MAX branding. CEO David Calhoun called a branding change “silly,” early this year. Few airlines have gone out and canceled MAX orders because of the grounding, so, from a business standpoint, Boeing does not have to worry about that. It is unlikely that Boeing will rebrand the MAX on its end since that would be a significant move for the company on a symbolic level.
However, the company could leave that decision up to the airlines. If a carrier wants to rebrand it and call it the 737-8 or 737-9 for the sake of sales purposes, then it would be a way for the rebranding to go through without Boeing having to invest energy to change the name on its end.
Do you think Boeing will rename the 737 MAX officially? Do you think airlines will (or should) rebrand the MAX? Let us know in the comments!