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Boeing Introduces the 737 MAX – Really?

Is this the new Boeing 737 MAX livery? Nope, but a great Photoshop by Lyle Jansma.

Is this the new Boeing 737 MAX livery? Nope, but a great Photoshop by Lyle Jansma.

There are two stories with the unveiling of the new Boeing 737 MAX: the actual aircraft (which promises greater efficiency) and the choice of the name “MAX.” When I heard about Boeing’s name for their 737 re-engine, for some odd reason, I got really thirsty and wanted a Pepsi… weird. While this story should lead with the differences of the new 737, I feel I have to talk about the new name first, since it is the most shocking.

Boeing is a smart company that makes respected aircraft. They have a history of creating legendary names: Stratocruiser, Stratoliner, and of course Dreamliner. The name “MAX” is just not in the same category in my opinion — it seems lazy and very “been there, done that.”

There has been a lot of speculation on what Boeing might call their 737 Re-engine: the 737RE, 737-8, 737NNG. Many people have been excited to find out the new name. Reading different reactions on the internet, it appears I am not the only one who is disappointed.

According to Boeing, these next, next generation aircraft will be written as the “737 MAX 7″, “737 MAX 8″ and “737 MAX 9″ without dashes. I think I might be writing them as 737-7, 737-8, 737-9 with dashes and no “MAX.”

The 737 Next Generation was a great name. I even like Airbus’ new A320neo name to describe their more efficient aircraft to compete with the 737.

Yes, I understand the ideas behind Boeing choosing this name, but it doesn’t mean the name works. During the press conference announcing the re-engined 737, Nicole Piasecki explained why Boeing chose the MAX name. “We wanted the name to capture how exceptional the 737 is not only to in terms of its performance but we wanted it to be able to differentiate the 7, 8 and 9. We wanted to make sure the name was easily identifiable from 4-year olds up to 90-year olds and we wanted to make sure that it represented the best that it will truly be… We thought about how do you convey superiority, the best, the gold standard in single-aisle airplanes. And how do you come up with a name to describe already a great airplane. We wanted to make sure that it talked about what it was going bring to the industry in terms of maximum benefit, maximum competitive advantage for our customers, maximum value and absolute maximum in what an airplane could deliver to our customers. So we came up with something that fit that and we will be calling this airplane the 737 MAX.”

With all the creative and smart people at Boeing this is the best (er max) that they could do?

I like the new real livery of the 737 MAX, but not so sure about the name. Image from Boeing.

I like the new real livery of the 737 MAX, but not so sure about the name. Image from Boeing.

Will an airline not choose this aircraft because of the name? Of course not. They are going to care more about the performance and the bottom line.  Going with a re-engine 737 versus a whole new product makes sense. Airlines have already showed a strong demand for an updated single-aisle aircraft sooner rather than later. Going with a re-engined 737 will allow Boeing to  improve the 777 and develop additional models for the 787.

There are already496 orders for the new MAX aircraft from five airlines. Those that already have 737NG’s on order will most likely have the opportunity to change over to MAX aircraft.

Boeing states the 737 MAX will have a 16% less fuel consumption than their “competitor’s current offering” (we will assume that is the Airbus A320) and it will have 4% less than the A320neo. The new plane will use CFM International LEAP-1B engines and is expected to have its first delivery sometime in 2017.

So what are your thoughts? Do you like the 737 MAX name?

MORE:
* Video of the new 737 MAX
* Great fake press release of the new 737 MAX

Boeing 737 Pepsi MAX livery done by Lyle Jansma

27 comments to Boeing Introduces the 737 MAX – Really?

  • I’m not really a fan. However, I do think it’s better than NEO.

  • Tony

    Like you I understand the why of it… doesn’t mean I have to like it. I wonder how they are going to handle the customer codes with the new airplane too. That’s something for you to research David!

  • Dan

    David,

    As a 737 pilot, I think the whole program is a missed opportunity for Boeing. Unfortunately, Boeing has had a lot of missed opportunities as of late. Lets start with Boeing’s insistance that they outsource most of the work on the 787. This really hampered Boeing’s ability to manage quality control on the aircraft. This and many other factors led to the 787 being 3 years behind schedule in delivering it to customers. This led to Boeing not being able to handle another new aircraft program. They could have had most of the work completed on an all-new aircraft, before having to focus on upgrades to the 777. This would have completely destroyed Airbus and their A320 NEO. Now, Airbus is selling like hotcakes, and Boeing is bragging about an airplane that only produces a 7% cost savings over the NG aircraft, and those that fly it are still stuck flying a has been airplane that is most definitely not a 757 replacement (which Boeing pronounced the 737-900). Now, they name it the 737 MAX? It’s only got MINI gains and and passengers are stuck with a narrow Narrow-Body where the first class toilet seat doesn’t even stay up. An airplane that is not ergonomically friendly to the flight crews that have to spend 8 hours a day in. An Airplane that passengers have to sit wedged in for a transcontinental 6.5 hour flight. An airplane with cockpit and system technology that spas over 40 years and wasn’t updated on the NG because Southwest Airlines wanted it that way. An airplane that still can’t do Single Engine autolands because it only has two autopilots. I really do love Boeing and I wish they would get their act together and put together a world-class airplane, like the 787 will be. A single-aisle airplane that 4 year olds to 90 year olds will really want to get on.

    • This commentary says it all. The approach to the manufacture of the 787 has hampered Boeing’s other aircraft programs. It is evident from the decision not to produce an all new 737/757 successor that Boeing has been stung by its approach to the 787.

      Boeing has to now focus on recouping from the 787/747 manufacture overruns, the impending Airbus A350XWB, and 777 upgrades. Regrettably, an all new 737 would be too much for them to digest. I agree that they had an opportunity to seriously slow the momentum of Airbus and the A320neo. Now, they have to cast the net wide with all of their commercial aircraft. That’s a tougher play, but they have a very good stable of aircraft.

      I think a 737-900 is completely ridiculous, but airlines are buying it, and they’ll buy the MAX. On that note, I don’t care at all for the name 737 MAX, but a more inventive name wouldn’t really be appropriate for an aircraft that is only receiving modest update. It also no worse than ‘neo’, ‘XWB’, or ‘Superjumbo’. I also don’t care for’ Dreamliner’. Once it enters service in great numbers and the American carriers begin using it on domestic routes, I think it’s to say that the flying experience will be far from dreamy.

  • I prefer NEO. A mentor once told me not to criticize unless I had a better alternative, which I don’t. Max doesn’t do it for me but for lack of me coming up with something better I suppose it will have to do.

  • Chris

    Well if they follow Chevy’s lead with the Malibu Maxx, perhaps we will see a hatchback 737? Its a nifty thought at least.

  • Paul

    Chris,
    They had a convertible on Aloha but it wasn’t a big hit.

  • I don’t know how they are going to use customer codes… If they were using the same system as before, they could just use 737-7XX, for example, but what are they going to do now: Boeing 737 MAX32? Boeing 737 MAXH4?

    I guess they’ve probably thought it out, but it seems childish and complex to me. Neo sound much classier and refined, MAX sounds like the name of my Pinewood Derby car in 3rd grade.

  • Peter

    Terrible name. I posted this on Seattle Times and only got a comment that nobody would buy or not buy the plane over the name, but that’s still true that I don’t like the name or find it fitting:

    Seems to be the right product for the time. I just wish they had picked a better name and different numbers. Those to me are two major flaws in this whole plan.

    First of all, “MAX” is one of the most clichéd terms I know of, and will sound ridiculous when the next generation of 737 or the 737 replacement takes over. It is a large aluminum tube, which automatically makes me think of Pepsi MAX, as if climbing into an aluminum can weren’t something to avoid already.

    Second, it’s a mistake to use the -7, -8, -9 designators. I know it’s not traditional at Boeing to go to higher numbers than 9, but in this case, I feel going to -10, -11, and -12 would be less confusing. Especially when the current production models are already -700, -800, -900.

    Personally, I think it would have been a good idea to name them as new variants of the existing series. You’ve got 737-200/Adv. Why not just make these the -700/Max, -800/Max, -900ER/Max? The only problem there is if they want to move them to a new assembly location as a “new model”. It’s easier if it’s a whole new series, though I still don’t like the name or the way they’re designating them as the same first number as the existing series.

  • You may write them that way… but you run the risk of being misunderstood — a friend ramps for SWA (which, of course, only flies the 7-3), and that’s what we already call the planes they already fly: the -7(00), the -8(00) and the -9(00).

    So I think there’s a touch too much ambiguity in your planned nomenclature.

    Nice pic, though…

    And FWIW: My feeling is anyone who likes “Neo” should have taken the *blue* pill.

  • Really, this project’s name got as much fun as it deserved. At its heart, it’s an old design and a pretty unexciting workaday airplane. I don’t care what numbers/letters/characters you tack onto it, it’s hard to get excited about a 737.

  • Airplanejim

    Re: 737 MAX – Really?
    Mr. Brown, Was the need to publish this a result of too much time on your hands or a deadline to get an article to the publisher? The name Neo or MAX or whatever, is what it is. It’s like Mom gets to name the baby.

    • My darn publisher is always riding me on deadlines :) I am my own publisher. Actually I took quite a bit of time on this one. I first say it while on a layover in Amsterdam and really did not like the concept. Read all about it on my flight back to Seattle and overall waiting 24 hours to see what I thought.

      Think how much names like Concorde, Constellation and others have gone through time as being legendary names in aviation. I just don’t see 737 MAX doing the same thing. Yea totally, Boeing has the right to name the plane whatever they want, but doesn’t mean it won’t get made fun of the name in the school yard :).

      David

  • [...] Boeing Introduces the 737 MAX – Really? | Airline Reporter | Blogging on the airline business – airlinereporter.com – David Parker Brown Is this the new Boeing 737 MAX livery? Nope, but a great Photoshop by Lyle Jansma. There are two stories with the unveiling of the new Boeing 737 MAX: the actual aircraft (which promises greater efficiency) and the choice of the name “MAX.” When I heard about Boeing’s name for their 737 re-engine, for some odd reason, I got really thirsty and wanted a Pepsi… weird. While this story should lead with the differences of the new 737, I feel I have to talk about the new name first, since it is the m…  show all text [...]

  • Another new concept aircraft, highlighting the modern trend in airliner evolution… is it to be called the “Thromby Max?”
    http://www.thrombyair.com/2011/07/concept-aircraft/

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  • Lucas Fernandes

    Come on, let´s talk about features that really makes this new series better than the A320´s. Who cares about the name, it could be worse. Use MAX as the name of the most incredible and best selling single-aisle ever, means what stage Boeing brings their innovations. It´s better than neo, that looks too green for me, too french. MAX goes further.

  • Tim Empson

    It amazes me the effusive marketing guff from Boeing. Remember this is an aeroplane they did not want to produce but were forced into by the sales of the neo. Then then claim to have put together the max! Well if I was a customer I would be asking why they had to be forced to do this if they had such a great plane design.

  • le bon vivant

    I guess the name is Really irrelevant as it is not a factor that customers decide on. Whether it was called 737RE 737 NNG 737NEO 737Max 737Plus is really irrelevant to engage in discussing the name. It is like discussing whether a person’s surname fits him or not. On the technical side of things, I still don’t believe airbus about everything they say about the neo. The 15% efficiency they claim is simply from the engine, what they don’t say is how the additional weight of the frame and drag caused by bigger engine will eat into that 15%

  • [...] customers and about 88% of airlines are opting for the new interior. Boeing has announced that all 737 MAX aircraft will come with the Sky Interior [...]

  • [...] will make improvements on the 737 NextGen to create a new version; the Boeing 737 MAX. Although I am still not a fan of the new name, I am starting to become a fan of the changes that the MAX will bring to Boeing and their [...]

  • [...] will make improvements on the 737 NextGen to create a new version; the Boeing 737 MAX. Although I am still not a fan of the new name, I am starting to become a fan of the changes that the MAX will bring to Boeing and their [...]

  • [...] is coming up with. Although the MAX name has grown on me a bit since when I first heard about it (I was really not a fan), can’t Boeing come up with a better (and cooler) name than “Advanced Technology [...]

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