Travelers, experts react as U.S. bans Boeing 737 MAX 8, MAX 9 jet

PHOENIX (FOX 10/AP) -- Travelers and experts are speaking out, as the U.S. joins 40 other countries around the world in banning the Boeing 737 MAX 8 from its airspace, in the wake of the crash of an Ethiopian airliner that killed 157 people.

Until President Donald Trump's announcement Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration had said that it didn't have any data to show the jets are unsafe. Trump cited "new information" that had come to light in the ongoing investigation into incident. He did not elaborate.

"All of those planes are grounded, effective immediately," Trump said during a scheduled briefing on border security.

Trump said any airplane currently in the air will go to its destination and then be grounded. He added all airlines and affected pilots had been notified.

Boeing says it supports the temporary grounding of the entire fleet of Max planes, while reiterating it believes the planes are safe.

Prior to the grounding, Boeing had promised to upgrade some flight-control software "in the coming weeks."

Boeing began working on the changes shortly after the Lion Air crash. It is tweaking the system designed to prevent an aerodynamic stall if sensors detect that the plane's nose is pointed too high and its speed is too slow.

A Boeing spokesman said once updated software is installed, the system will rely on data from more than one sensor to trigger a nose-down command. Also, the system won't repeatedly push the nose down, and it will reduce the magnitude of the change, he said. There will also be more training for pilots.

"It boils down to proper training," said Dane Wood, Aviation attorney at the Brewer Law Firm. "That's an aspect, the software that's been equipped on the 737 MAX 8 that is giving some trouble to the pilots so that requires some specialized training, how to adjust to it."

"It's different from all the other 737's," said John Brewer, aviation attorney at the Brewer Law Firm. "The engine is in a different area. Bigger engines carry more passengers."

Brewer said he's found similarities from the Ethiopian crash to the one that happened to a Lion Air flight in October 2018, which killed 189 people.

"Until they get the black box, nobody is going to know what procedures they followed," said Brewer. "But literally, if you have two aircrafts crashing in a six-month period, it raises a big red flag, especially same manufacturer, make and model."

At the gates of Sky Harbor on Wednesday sat one of Southwest Airline's 34 737 MAX planes. Inside the airport, at the baggage claim, there was a flurry of emotions as people discovered the plane they just arrived on from Houston has been grounded.

"It was already in the air when they called for it to be grounded. It kind of leaves you a little uneasy," said one person.

"I had no idea," said another person. "It was just a regular Southwest flight."

One passenger said it shouldn't have taken the government and Boeing this long to act.

"Two of them in the last couple of months, and everybody else in the world is shutting them down, and we're still flying," said Tom Payne. "That seemed to me to disregard the safety of the public and their own business interest."