Boeing has run into major issues over the past many months, with the crash of two Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, first one last year operated by LionAir, and then 5 months later with Ethiopian Airlines. Subsequently, Boeing 737 MAX aircraft worldwide were grounded. It emerged that the MCAS software system, which was added to the aircraft to level out the aircraft was at the heart of the issue, and Boeing, after initially shifting the finger around and refusing to affirm, came around.
The Boeing 737 MAX aircraft has been on the ground for over three months now, with a moving deadline on when the issue will be likely solved. I will be writing separately about why I believe the MAX aircraft is not coming out of the grounding anytime soon, but needless to say, Boeing did not get any narrow body orders for a long time as their focus shifted on solving the problem and getting the grounding lifted, until June 2019, when they received a 200 aircraft order from International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways amongst their other carriers.
One of the curious details at that point in time was the press release put out by IAG, which used the terms 737-8 and 737-10 to describe this order, rather than the 737MAX8 or 737MAX10, as they were commonly known.
At the point in time, it was guessed by many a folk that this was a hedge against the MAX moniker, which was perhaps attached to the aircraft by the marketing team of Boeing to counter the neo put at the end of the A320s to indicate the newer generation aircraft. Boeing’s official line continues to be that they won’t be rebranding the aircraft.
Boeing continues to assemble the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft so that they can be delivered when the grounding is lifted. And that means they are storing these aircraft in every little nook and cranny they can find in Washington state with a Boeing operation.
But now, it seems to be almost confirmed, that Boeing may itself be dropping the MAX moniker, and rebrand the aircraft to try and take away the public perception of it being a problematic aircraft. I am sure Boeing will eventually solve the issues with the aircraft, and just like Willie Walsh, I would like to believe they would have looked under every stone to trouble shoot every problem so that they have it all gone for good.
Today, WoodysImages, who is based in Seattle and keeps an eye on Boeing’s manufacturing and deliveries from outside the factory, tweeted a very interesting picture, which shows how a new aircraft painted for RyanAir, a MAX customer, is no longer carrying the name, but rather the digits 737-8200. The first picture is for an airframe to be registered as EI-HAW, and the second picture is of an aircraft to be registered as EI-HAX.
— Woodys Aeroimages (@AeroimagesChris) July 15, 2019
This is just one aircraft with the new branding, and a set of one is not fully indicative of what happens next. But for Boeing to put a different brand than what it has contracted for is a significant step, even if taken once for now.
So, one can note the change of tack, which while not officially a Boeing stance at the moment, is being seen at carriers in Europe at least now. Question then is, when will Boeing, officially, drop the MAX moniker to sell the 737-8 and 737-10s, willingly or unwillingly?
Do you think the 737 programme will be rebranded by Boeing?