UK Markets open in 1 hr 52 mins

Boeing 737 Max ordered by Ryanair undergoes name change

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent
Photograph: Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

A Boeing 737 Max due to be delivered to Ryanair has had the model’s name changed on the livery, further fuelling speculation that the manufacturer and airlines will seek to rebrand the troubled plane.

Photos have emerged of a repainted 737 Max in Ryanair colours outside Boeing’s manufacturing hub, with the name 737 Max replaced by 737-8200 on the nose.

The aircraft remains grounded worldwide after two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed a total of 346 people. Boeing has yet to convince regulators that modifications to its software are sufficient to ensure its safety.

Ryanair has 135 of the 737 Max models on order, the first five of which are due for delivery in the autumn. The airline has ordered a larger version of the Max 8, with 200 seats, now badged 737-8200 in the photographs taken at Renton in Washington, US, and posted on social media by Woodys Aeroimages.

Neither Ryanair nor Boeing has commented or confirmed which airline decided to rebrand the model.

It is not the first airline to use a different formulation. International Airlines Group, which owns carriers including British Airways and Aer Lingus, was equally coy when purchasing discounted Max planes from Boeing last month. Announcing the letter of intent signed at the Paris airshow, IAG referred to “200 B737 aircraft” that would to join its fleet, which it described as “a mix of 737-8 and 737-10 aircraft”.

(May 22, 2017) Boeing 737 Max enters commercial service

The first Boeing 737 Max begins commercial operations with Malindo Air. Norwegian Air is also an early adopter of the new model, operating transatlantic flights. The model promises fuel efficiencies attractive to carriers.

(October 29, 2018)  Lion Air crash

Lion Air flight JT610 crashes after making a sudden, sharp dive into the Java Sea 13 minutes after departing from Jakarta, Indonesia. All 189 people onboard are killed. That particular plane had been in use for less than three months.

(November 6, 2018)  Airspeed issues

The plane's black box recorder reveals that the Lion Air plane had experienced problems with its airspeed indicators on its last four flights.

(November 7, 2018)  Boeing's new advice

Boeing issues revised instructions on how pilots should react to erroneous readings from “angle of attack” sensors, believed to be a key factor in the Lion Air crash.

(November 28, 2018)  Lion Air crash report

“In our view, the plane was not airworthy,” is the interim finding of the official investigation into the crash. The Indonesian transport safety agency did not pinpoint a definitive cause of the accident, but said Lion Air kept putting the plane back into service despite repeatedly failing to fix a problem with the airspeed indicator.  

(March 10, 2019) Ethiopia Airlines crash

Flight ET302 crashes approximately six minutes after taking off from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people onboard. The captain had reported difficulties, and flight radar data shows the aircraft was climbing erratically with an unstable vertical airspeed.

(March 13, 2019) Boeing grounds fleet

The EU, Canada and the US all ground the Boeing 737 Max. Boeing itself issues a statement saying it “continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 Max”, but that “out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public” it is recommending the grounding of the entire global fleet of 371 aircraft.

(April 4, 2019)  Interim report findings

The interim report into the Ethiopian Airlines crash finds that the pilots correctly followed Boeing’s emergency instructions, but were still unable to stop the plane’s nose repeatedly pointing down. The jet hit an airspeed of 500 knots (575mph), well above its operational limits, before cockpit data recordings stopped.

(June 27, 2019)  A new potential risk

Airlines extend their ban on using the Boeing 737 Max after the US aviation regulator said it had identified a new potential risk with the plane.

(June 27, 2019) 

United Airlines becomes the latest carrier to extend its ban on using the Boeing 737 Max after the US aviation regulator said it had identified a new potential risk with the plane.

(July 10, 2019) 

In the wake of Boeing’s troubles, Airbus seems set to overtake it as the world's biggest planemaker. As Boeing reported 239 commercial plane deliveries in the first half of the year, a 37% fall, rival Airbus shipped 389 deliveries, up 28% on the same period last year.

(July 15, 2019) 

Pictures emerge of a Boeing 737 Max due to be delivered to Ryanair with the name 737 Max replaced by 737-8200 on the nose.

Plenty of observers – among them the US president, Donald Trump – have advised Boeing to rebrand the plane before its eventual return to service. The US president 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.”

Boeing told reporters at the Paris show that it would consider changing the brand name to help it return to the skies, although the company later said it was not working on a name change.

The Max is Boeing’s top-selling aircraft, with about 5,000 ordered, although deliveries have ceased since the grounding in April and IAG’s is the only significant – and provisional – order.

Investigations into the two disasters involving the 737 Max have highlighted the role played by anti-stall software that countermanded pilots’ commands as both planes crashed soon after takeoff. Airlines fear some passengers will refuse to fly on the Max.