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Will name change help smooth over MAX woes?

July 17, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

With the Boeing 737 Max plane still grounded worldwide after two fatal crashes – and two big US carriers pulling 737 MAX planes from their schedules and cancelling flights into early November – a rebrand and name change may be in the wind for the troubled aircraft.

A Twitter post by Woodys Aeroimages, carried by the Guardian and other news outlets, appears to show a 737 MAX at a Boeing plant, due to be delivered to Ryanair, with the name MAX removed from the livery and replaced with the designation 737-8200. Neither Boeing nor Ryanair made comment.

The 737-8200 is an alternative name for the aircraft – a type and model name used in the aviation industry, rather than a brand name.

The MAX was formerly the fastest selling aircraft in Boeing’s history.

Boeing is modifying the plane’s software after two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed a total of 346 people. US regulators have to sign off on the changes and that may not happen till very late this year, if then.

 

Above: First public appearance of the Boeing 737 MAX. Roll-out in Seattle of the 737 MAX 8 in December 2015.

 

Ryanair has 135 MAX models on order, according to the Guardian.

British Airways and Aer Lingus are also apparently eager to avoid the MAX name. Their parent company IAG recently referred to a huge new order of “200 B737 aircraft” that would join the fleet from 2023. It avoided the name MAX.

US President Donald Trump is among those who have urged Boeing to rebrand the aircraft. There is concern that consumers may deliberately avoid the aircraft.

MEANWHILE, MAX planes sit parked, banned from flying. The travel industry is waiting for fares to rise as the effect of the long-term cancellations flows through.

A group of consumers have filed a lawsuit against Boeing and Southwest Airlines in Texas state court, alleging that both companies knew about the dangers of flying the 737 MAX planes while tickets were still sold to customers, NPR in the US reported.

American Airlines announced it will pull the 737 MAX from its schedule through till 2 November 2019 as the grounding drags on, cancelling about 115 flights per day. American reported last week that the MAX grounding has already cost the airline USD 185 million in lost revenue.

Boeing 737 MAX 8

United Airlines is cancelling scheduled MAX flights till 3 November 2019, totalling about 2100 flights in September and another 2900 flights in October. Southwest has 34 MAX planes parked and is cancelling about 150 flights a day until 1 October 2019.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) found a new problem last month, while running tests in a simulator of the Boeing software upgrade for the MAX. The discovery is likely to extend the grounding.

Boeing rival Airbus is set to deliver a record number of planes this year, overtaking Boeing in the plane delivery stakes for the first time in seven years.

Written by Peter Needham

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