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David Schaper

David Schaper is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, based in Chicago, primarily covering transportation and infrastructure, as well as breaking news in Chicago and the Midwest.

In this role, Schaper covers aviation and airlines, railroads, the trucking and freight industries, highways, transit, and new means of mobility such as ride hailing apps, car sharing, and shared bikes and scooters. In addition, he reports on important transportation safety issues, as well as the politics behind transportation and infrastructure policy and funding.

Since joining NPR in 2002, Schaper has covered some of the nation's most important news stories, including the Sandy Hook school shooting and other mass shootings, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, California wildfires, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and numerous other disasters. David has also reported on presidential campaigns in Iowa and elsewhere, on key races for U.S. Senate and House, governorships, and other offices in the Midwest, and he reported on the rise of Barack Obama from relative political obscurity in Chicago to the White House. Along the way, he's brought listeners and online readers many colorful stories about Chicago politics, including the corruption trials and convictions of two former Illinois governors.

But none of that compares to the joy of covering his beloved Chicago Cubs winning the World Series in 2016, and three Stanley Cup Championships for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, 2013, and 2015.

Prior to joining NPR, Schaper spent almost a decade working as an award-winning reporter and editor for WBEZ/Chicago Public Media, NPR's Member station in Chicago. For three years he covered education issues, reporting in-depth on the problems and progress — financial, educational and otherwise — in Chicago's public schools.

Schaper also served as WBEZ's Assistant Managing Editor of News, managing the station's daily news coverage and editing the reporting staff while often still reporting himself. He later served as WBEZ's political editor and reporter; he was a frequent fill-in news anchor and talk show host. Additionally, he has been an occasional contributor guest panelist on Chicago public television station WTTW's news program, Chicago Tonight.

Schaper began his journalism career in La Crosse, Wisconsin, as a reporter and anchor at Wisconsin Public Radio's WLSU-FM. He has since worked in both public and commercial radio news, including stints at WBBM NewsRadio in Chicago, WXRT-FM in Chicago, WDCB-FM in suburban Chicago, WUIS-FM in Springfield, Illinois, WMAY-AM in Springfield, Illinois, and WIZM-AM and FM in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Schaper earned a bachelor's degree in mass communications and history at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a master's degree in public affairs reporting at the University of Illinois-Springfield. He lives in Chicago with his wife, a Chicago Public School teacher, and they have three adult children.

One of the nation's best known airline pilots is speaking out on the problems with Boeing's 737 Max jetliner. Retired Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger told a congressional subcommittee Wednesday that an automated flight control system on the 737 Max "was fatally flawed and should never have been approved."

The Federal Aviation Administration says there's a new problem with some of Boeing's 737 commercial jets. More than 300 of the planes, including some of the grounded Max versions of the jets, may have faulty parts on their wings.

Though the problem is not considered something that could lead to a crash, Boeing is contacting airlines that own the 737s in question, and the FAA has issued an air worthiness order directing airlines to immediately inspect the aircraft.

After a daylong meeting with fellow aviation safety officials from around the world, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration is sounding more optimistic about efforts to approve a fix for Boeing's troubled 737 Max, hinting that the FAA could recertify the plane to fly passengers again by as soon as late June.

In the wake of two crashes of its 737 Max jet in recent months that killed 346 people and grounded those planes worldwide, Boeing continues to produce the planes while campaigning to reassure airlines, pilots, regulators and the flying public that they are safe.

Many air travelers are breathing a sigh of relief now that the Federal Aviation Administration has grounded all Boeing 737 Max airplanes after two of the aircraft crashed in recent months, but some airline passengers are finding their flights canceled on Thursday as a result.

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The Federal Aviation Administration now faces an awkward question.

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The polar vortex sliding south into the Midwest is sending temperatures to their lowest levels in more than 30 years and, in some cases, setting records.

While it usually sits over the Arctic, the polar vortex is being pushed south by an unseasonably warm air mass to the north.

The life-threatening cold is paralyzing the region — closing schools, businesses and courthouses; grounding flights; and keeping millions confined to their homes.

Package delivery by drone is one small step closer to reality today.

Federal regulators announced plans Monday to change rules to allow drone operators to fly their unmanned aerial vehicles over populated areas and at night, without having to get special permits.

Many drone operators and enthusiasts complain that federal regulations haven't kept pace with the technology, arguing that prohibitions on flying drones over people and at night are out of date.

Once the backbone of the nation's transportation system, the nation's aging interstate highways are now overused and worn out, according to a new federal report. And failure to invest billions in modernizing the system will likely lead to more potholes, slower traffic jams, and increased costs to drivers and the nation's economy.

The I-word is popping up again in Washington D.C.: infrastructure.

It's one of the few issues on which President Trump and Democrats in Congress might be able to agree. Both sides say they're willing to work together on a plan to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges, transit and water systems.

"It really could be a beautiful bipartisan type of situation," Trump said in his news conference last Wednesday. While he was combative on a lot of issues, this wasn't one of them: "We have a lot of things in common on infrastructure," he added.

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Relief supplies and critical life-saving equipment and personnel are heading into areas of Florida's Panhandle ravaged by Hurricane Michael, but officials say the severity of the storm's devastation is limiting their ability to get into the most heavily damaged areas.

Air travelers frustrated by having very little legroom and narrow seats might finally see some relief under legislation passed Wednesday by the U.S. Senate. A bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, which passed on a vote of 93-6, includes a provision requiring the FAA to set a minimum size for commercial airplane seats, including a minimum pitch, or distance between seats.

Airlines have been shrinking that distance in recent years in order to cram more seats and passengers onto planes and squeeze more revenue out of each flight.

Many seaports and airports along the southeastern U.S. coastline have been shut down, more than 1,000 flights have been canceled, and some highways and bridges in low-lying coastal areas could close soon, as Hurricane Florence gets closer to making landfall.

Authorities in coastal areas that lie in the path of the massive storm are urging residents one last time to evacuate.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster's message is pretty blunt: If you live in an evacuation zone, hit the road soon.

The U.S is on pace to record close to 40,000 roadway and highway deaths for the third consecutive year, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday by the National Safety Council. The silver lining in those dark numbers is that the number of people dying each year in traffic collisions nationwide appears to be leveling off after two years of sharp increases.

Most of us know the routine of boarding an airplane: First, there's the patient waiting in line at the gate, and then again on the jet bridge, and waiting yet again for fellow passengers to put luggage in the overhead bins, before finally it's your turn to find your seat and do the same.

Now, actually getting into the that narrow window or middle seat is another problem.

The Trump administration's practice of separating children from their parents at the border is not just heartbreaking to other immigrants but also terrifying. Even immigrants who are in the country legally are beginning to worry that their families could be broken apart, too.

The anti-immigrant threats and actions have many Hispanic Americans in particular living on edge.

Tears immediately start streaming down the cheeks of Sarah, a Mexican immigrant, when she is asked about watching recent news stories on TV.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators say the driver of a Tesla using autopilot did not have his hands on the steering wheel in the moments before a fatal crash in the Silicon Valley area of Northern California in March.

Investigators also found that the Tesla was accelerating, with the cruise control engaged, when it crashed into a highway barrier. Walter Huang, the 38-year old driver, was killed.

If you've already tried to get away for the long holiday weekend or are planning on leaving soon, you probably know this: the highways, airports and train stations are packed with like-minded folks trying to get out of town for the unofficial start of the summer vacation season.

Planes, trains and automobiles are overrun with Memorial Day weekend travelers and those who study traffic analytics say even people who slipped out on Thursday to beat the traffic were greeted by gridlock in many cities.

The country's leading airplane manufacturer, The Boeing Company, is caught in the middle as the world's two largest economies, the U.S. and China, inch closer to an all-out trade war.

In retaliation for President Trump's proposed $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese-made products, China has announced it would impose steep tariffs on $50 billion worth of U.S. products, including some aircraft.

Another top adviser to President Trump is leaving the White House. An administration official tells NPR that DJ Gribbin, architect of the president's $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, "will be moving on to new opportunities."

This latest staff departure comes as the infrastructure plan hits a roadblock in Congress.

Workers in traditional steel towns across the country are rejoicing over President Trump's steep tariffs on imported steel that go into effect Friday.

Especially in Granite City, Ill., where United States Steel is calling back 500 laid-off workers to restart one of its two idled blast furnaces at a mill there.

That mill is the town's largest employer, and for decades, Granite City's fortunes have largely tracked the success of the steel industry.

Updated at 11:59 p.m. ET

Federal investigators say a track switch locked in the wrong position appears to have led to Sunday's deadly Amtrak collision with an idle CSX freight train, and they are hesitant to say this latest wreck — the fourth fatal Amtrak incident in seven weeks — is part of a broader problem with what some have called a "lax safety culture" at Amtrak.

We all need a little emotional support or comforting every now and then. And for many of us, our animals can provide it. Some of us with severe anxiety, phobias, PTSD or other disabilities cannot travel without them.

But one woman took the notion of needing a comfort animal a little too far when trying to bring her rather large peacock, Dexter, onboard a United Airlines flight at Newark's Liberty Airport Sunday. United said no.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators are looking into whether the engineer of the Amtrak train that derailed south of Seattle Monday morning may have been distracted by a second Amtrak employee in the cab of the locomotive.

Investigators also are trying to determine why no brakes were activated by the engineer. The emergency brake activated automatically only as part of the train began to go off the rails.

How much would you pay to avoid traffic jams on your daily commute? $10? $20? How about $40?

That's how much a tollway in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., charged for a short time last week. Outraged commuters call it highway robbery.

But transportation officials say the high-priced toll is less about money and more about changing commuter behavior and reducing congestion, and commuters all across the country might soon see more tolls in the future.

Mayors from across the country say a lack of leadership in Washington on climate change is prompting them to take action themselves.

More than 50 mayors from cities large and small wrapped up a climate change summit in Chicago on Wednesday, at which they signed a formal agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their cities. They also agreed to meet goals similar to those in the Paris climate accord, which President Trump announced earlier this year the U.S. would withdraw from.

There is no need to charter a sleigh pulled by reindeer for your air travel to holiday destinations after all. American Airlines and its pilots have worked out a deal to staff cockpits in late December after a scheduling snafu threatened to cancel thousands of flights.

Because of what the airline is calling "a processing error" in its scheduling system, American mistakenly allowed many more pilots to take time off over the holidays than it should have.

Updated on Dec. 4 at 6:29 p.m. ET

Some of the nation's 3.5 million truck drivers staged protests with their big rigs at truck stops and a few state capitols around the country on Monday, in hopes of derailing a new safety regulation that is set to take effect later this month.

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