The odds are very high you have flown on a Boeing 737 MAX 8 in the past year. Since its launch in 2011, more than five thousand orders have been placed, with over 350 planes delivered to airlines since 2017.
However, Boeing has gone from getting passengers to their destination to being associated with fatal crashes and cancelled flights. With the recent Ethiopian and Lion Air incidents fresh in everyones minds, more than 50 countries have now banned the MAX 8 from flying in their air space, and Boeing has to think about how they will change the current perception of their company and the 737.
Based on an airliner model ranking of fatal plane crashes, the 737 has the highest proportion of passengers killed in plane accidents–and it’s not even close. This is quite the negative brand perception to overcome for the Boeing brand name. As more facts emerge from both the Ethiopian and Lion Air incident, Boeing will be challenged to determine if the current 737 plane designation and its history of fatalities warrants a rebrand and how they think of naming their planes.
So, what should Boeing consider when it comes to their company, image and one of their most popular planes?
Boeing needs to rethink their entire model nomenclature and move away from the current numbering system towards one that is angled in consumer benefits. The organization was well underway with their “Dreamliner” designation for their newest 787 model, and consideration should be given to transitioning towards a more consumer friendly name for their fleet. Maybe a move from 737 MAX 8 to “Comfortliner,” for example, would help overcome some of the negative history.
Of course, renaming their airplanes will have to come after they ensure the planes are safe to fly. A further communications and public relations initiative will also need to be prioritized to regain the publics trust and improve their image. But some things are hard to forget, and the 737 MAX 8 numbers may fall into that category. A new name will help them move on from these recent tragedies, and ensure they are once again getting people to where they want to go.
Do you think Boeing can survive these tragic events?