What’s in a name? For Boeing, that question could become increasingly pertinent as it seeks to rehabilitate the 737 Max.

While the technical challenges posed by the recertification effort are considerable – and at present, all-consuming for the airframer – they are almost by the by: Boeing will throw sufficient engineering resources at the process until the desired outcome is achieved.

737 Max tech flight


But once approval for the restart of flights is obtained, the real battle may begin: how to encourage passengers back onto the jet.

Akbar Al Baker – the outspoken chief executive of Qatar Airways – believes that the Max brand has suffered such “reputational damage” that Boeing’s only course of action will be to rename the jet (a view ­previously expressed by Donald Trump).

A simple way would be to drop the “Max” from the name and simply refer to the aircraft by their 737-7, -8, -9 and -10 designations.

That practice already appears to be in use: IAG’s recent announcement of a deal covering 200 jets omitted any mention of the difficult “M” word (although the airframer’s version of the release included it).

Boeing may eventually bow to this ­pressure, accelerating a process it was ­likely to follow anyway.

But will this solve the underlying issue of a fearful flying public?

Initially, no. But memories are short. ­Assuming that once back in service the Max – or whatever it becomes – suffers no further accidents, then over time the safety associations will fade into the background.

Travellers are savvy, but on short-haul flights the cost of a ticket is the key factor, not the aircraft type. And if the choice is ­between flying on a Max or not going on holiday, it is clear which they will pick.

Source: Flight International