Boeing says it currently has no plans to drop the MAX name from its latest generation of Boeing 737s after photos emerged on twitter of a rebranded Ryanair aircraft.
The images prompted a flurry of speculation about a potential name change and show a Ryanair plane in Seattle with the 737 MAX logo replaced with 737-8200.
Boeing 737-8 and 737-9 are an alternative nomenclature for the 737 MAX 8 and 737 MAX 9 and had already been used in documentation from the US regulator.
Ryanair has orders for 135 737 MAX 200 versions of the plane, which have 197 seats, plus options for an additional 75 options.
The photos appear to explain why Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary would not commit to keeping the “MAX” brand in an interview last week with AirlineRatings’ Andreas Spaeth.
Ryanair may not be the only airline aiming to take this course: IAG boss Willie Walsh also refused to commit to the MAX moniker.
What appears on aircraft livery is a matter for the airline and the US manufacturer referred questions to Ryanair.
“Our immediate focus is the safe return of the MAX to service and re-earning the trust of airlines and the traveling public,’’ it said.
“We remain open-minded to all input from customers and other stakeholders, but have no plans at this time to change the name of the 737 MAX.”
The MAX brand has been damaged by the global grounding of the fleet in the wake of two fatal crashes in less than five months as well as publicity surrounding a series of investigations into the aircraft’s certification.
A number of commentators, most notably US President Donald Trump, have suggested that Boeing should change the name of the MAX.
Trump tweeted in April: “If I were Boeing, I would FIX the Boeing 737 MAX, add some additional great features, & REBRAND the plane with a new name.”
Although MAX operators have signaled they will seek compensation from Boeing for the grounding, many have remained supportive of the aircraft.
Boeing is currently working with regulators to get approval for software and training changes aimed at preventing a repeat of the two tragedies.
It remains unclear how long the approval will take and two US airlines, United and American, recently extended cancellation of MAX services through to early November.
Once the grounded aircraft have been cleared to fly, Boeing will face the challenge of explaining to the public what has been done and why it is safe to again fly on them.