After two crashes that killed 346 people in just over six months, the Boeing 737 Max aircraft is currently the most infamous plane in the world. By March, all 385 of the 737 Max planes that Boeing had ever delivered to customers had been grounded globally, along with more than 40 planes that the company had built since the accidents. The whole affair was made worse by a series of apparent mistakes and suppressed details within Boeing, arising from the plane’s unusual design. It hinged on a software system that compensated for aerodynamic changes in the basic, decades-old 737 design so that the aircraft could use larger, more efficient engines.
Boeing has endured a lot of justified criticism for its role in the crashes. It’s also received a lot of unsolicited advice. Perhaps most famously, President Donald Trump tweeted in April, “What do I know about branding, maybe nothing (but I did become President!), but if I were Boeing, I would FIX the Boeing 737 MAX, add some additional great features, & REBRAND the plane with a new name.” That advice might or might not be good for Boeing, but as recently as last week there was speculation that the company might be open to renaming the plane. Both CNN and Time reported that Boeing’s CFO, Greg Smith, had said the company was “open-minded” about the idea.