Announcing the introduction of a 200-seat version of its 189 seat 737 Max 8 that will really only seat 199 caused Boeing’s Commercial Airplane team quite some confusion at Farnborough last week.
The amusing exchange kicked off when a reporter asked, what should we call the new variant of Boeing’s re-engined narrowbody?
“Max 8,” replied Ray Conner, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. But isn’t that what Boeing already calls the 189-seat version? “The other one will be the -8,” Conner said. So what will the 200-seat version be called? “The Max 8,” replied Conner. Many in the audience looked at each other, perplexed. Conner continued, “Look, we’re not going to be doing the NG anymore, so [the 189-seater] is going to the be the 737-8. So the other is going to be the 737 Max 8.” Another baffled journo prodded further, so what will be the 200-seat variant be called? “Max 8,” said Conner. Himself now confused, Conner turned to his colleague Boeing’s chief salesman John Wojick for help, “Isn’t that right, you guys?” Now even Wojick seemed uncertain, cautiously replying “I don’t know if we’ve decided exactly what we’re going to call it.” The room proceeded to nod in silent agreement, and the briefing moved on. An hour later as proceedings wrapped up Conner returned to his muddled narrative. “Forget what I said about the name. We’ll go back and figure it out.”