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Boeing 737 MAX 9
A photographer takes a picture of the first Boeing 737 MAX 9 jet during its assembly at the company’s Renton plant in 2017. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

In addition to praising Tiger Woods and pillorying Democrats, President Donald Trump had some words of advice on Twitter for Boeing, which is dealing with federal investigations in the wake of two catastrophic 737 MAX crashes.

“What do I know about branding, maybe nothing (but I did become President),” Trump tweeted today, “but if I were Boeing, I would FIX the Boeing 737 MAX, add some additional great features, & REBRAND the plane with a new name. No product has suffered like this one. But again, what the hell do I know?”

What, indeed?

In 1988, Trump acquired 17 Boeing 727s and landing rights at airports in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C., from Eastern Air Lines’ shuttle operation. He added some additional features to the plane and rebranded the operation as the “Trump Shuttle.” Trump turned the no-frills service into a luxury experience, right down to the gold-colored bathroom fixtures — but never turned a profit.

Trump Shuttle fizzled out in 1992, in a haze of loan defaults, bank negotiations and acquisitions. The operational descendant of Trump’s airline is the American Airlines Shuttle, which no longer uses 727s. Instead, the service uses a mix of Embraer 175 and 190 jets, Airbus A319-100s and Boeing 737-800s. Those 737s come from the previous generation of Boeing’s 51-year-old 737 brand, and don’t have the MCAS automatic flight control system that’s been linked to the 737 MAX’s troubles.

Boeing didn’t respond to Trump’s suggestions on Twitter, but there were plenty of wags who joked that he’d probably go for rebranding the plane as the “737 MAGA.”

737 MAX planes have been grounded worldwide due to concerns surrounding the two fatal crashes, which occurred in Indonesia last October and in Ethiopia last month. Boeing has developed a software update that it says will head off any further problems related to the MCAS system, but regulators haven’t yet approved the update. Thus, the timing for getting hundreds of 737 MAX airplanes back up in the air is … up in the air.

Over the weekend, American Airlines said it would extend its cancellations of 737 MAX flights through Aug. 19. “By extending our cancellations through the summer, we can plan more reliably for the peak travel season and provide confidence to our customers and team members when it comes to their travel plans,” American Airlines’ executives explained in a statement distributed to team members.

Meanwhile, Boeing, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Justice Department (in league with the FBI) are all conducting investigations into the 737 MAX certification process. And 737 MAX fuselages as well as finished planes are stacking up at sites ranging from Seattle’s Boeing Field to Wenatchee in central Washington state.

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