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Will They – or Should They – Rename The Boeing 737 MAX?

While speculation runs rampant about whether the embattled Boeing 737 MAX will ever fly again, aviation experts, Boeing’s own executives, the flying public, and even the President of the United States are contemplating whether the aircraft should be rebranded with a new name.

In a terrific piece by Will Horton, Forbes researched the policy of airlines that use the 737 MAX. The publication found that of the 54 airlines that have 737 MAXs identifiably painted, only 11 airlines consistently write “MAX” on the aircraft’s nose.

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A further 26 airlines put “MAX” only at the aircraft’s rear while 13 airlines have no markings mentioning the aircraft type at all. Three airlines say 737-8 without mentioning MAX, while Ryanair has inconsistent practices.

Hearsay over what Boeing will do with the 737 MAX – grounded worldwide since March of 2019 after two separate crashes killed 346 people – walks a fine line.

To wit:

– Will Boeing even receive approval and re-certification from the Federal Aviation Administration to even use the aircraft again?

– President Trump, in an April 2019 tweet, wrote: “If I were Boeing, I would FIX the Boeing 737 MAX, add some additional great features, & REBRAND the plane with a new name.” Forbes noted that Boeing’s then-CFO and now interim CEO Greg Smith said, in June of last year, that Boeing did not have plans to rename the MAX but was open-minded.

– If the plane is re-certified will the airplane manufacturer consider rebranding the model and drop the ‘MAX’?

Rebranding could backfire in two ways, however.

The public could feel deceived and it could appear that Boeing and the airlines are intentionally trying to conceal from passengers that they are about to board a 737 MAX. In addition, changing the name could actually draw more attention to the situation.

For its part, Forbes wrote that Boeing’s return to service appears focused on instilling confidence by communicating to the public what it has changed on the MAX since the two crashes.