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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.

The devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the air travel industry is becoming clearer, as United Airlines announced on Wednesday that it may need to cut its U.S.-based workforce nearly in half when federal payroll funding runs out in October.

On Wednesday, the Chicago-based airline notified 36,000 employees, about 45% of the company's domestic employees, that they may lose their jobs on or after Oct. 1, the earliest date that airlines that received government-funded payroll grants can eliminate jobs under the terms of the CARES Act.

The Trump administration is urging airlines to leave some airplane seats empty to help protect travelers and crew members from the coronavirus but it is stopping short of requiring airlines to keep seats open to create physical distancing on flights.

The federal COVID-19 guidelines also encourage all passengers to wear face coverings or masks but again, the administration will not mandate it.

More than 15 months after grounding Boeing's 737 Max, the Federal Aviation Administration conducted the first in a series of certification test flights of the aircraft Monday, a pivotal step toward allowing the troubled plane to return to service.

The news sent Boeing's stock soaring, as the aerospace giant's share price climbed more than 14% on Monday. The 737 Max is the company's best-selling commercial jet ever. Nearly 5,000 of the planes were on back-order at the time the plane was grounded last March.

The Federal Aviation Administration is facing bipartisan outrage. Senators from both parties accuse the agency of "stonewalling" congressional investigators and keeping them "in the dark" in their effort to examine what went wrong in certifying Boeing's troubled 737 Max airplane.

More than a dozen Minneapolis police officers who say they represent hundreds of others condemned the former officer charged in the killing of George Floyd. And they expressed support for policing reforms in an open letter released Thursday that is addressed to "Dear Everyone — but especially Minneapolis citizens."

"We wholeheartedly condemn Derek Chauvin," the letter said at the outset, and it went on to denounce the now-fired officer's actions.

Police in Minneapolis will be forbidden to use chokeholds and neck restraints under reforms negotiated by city and state authorities.

In an emergency vote Friday, the Minneapolis City Council approved an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which opened a civil rights investigation this week into the city's police department in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Updated 2:25 p.m. ET

Protesters staged large-scale demonstrations across the country on Sunday, expressing outrage at the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and, more broadly, anger at police brutality. Some cities, including Minneapolis, Atlanta and Louisville, saw clashes with police, buildings and cars set afire, and looting.

Updated at 8:40 p.m. ET

Boeing is cutting more than 12,000 jobs as the Chicago-based airplane manufacturer copes with the sudden drop in air travel demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The summer travel season is kicking off this year with more uncertainty than any time in recent memory. The coronavirus pandemic has led millions of people to cancel vacation and travel plans. Airlines have lost billions of dollars in revenue, flying nearly empty planes and canceling tens of thousands of flights.

Amid a huge increase in consumer complaints, the federal government is once again reminding airlines of their obligation to offer customers refunds for canceled flights. At the same time, regulators say they will provide airlines some relief from a requirement that carriers continue flying into cities where demand for air travel is close to nonexistent.

In recent years, airlines have been cramming more seats onto planes and squishing passengers ever closer to one another. The entire airport experience isn't much better, with overcrowded eateries and bookshops, as well as tightly packed lines of people queuing up at check-in counters, at security checkpoints and on the jet bridge for boarding.

But that's not the case anymore.

"Airports are empty. The flights are empty," said physician Frank Garcini after stepping off a recent flight from Phoenix at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

Amtrak is the latest transportation provider to require all passengers to wear facial coverings or masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, beginning Monday.

The intercity passenger rail agency joins most of the nation's passenger airlines and many public transit systems in requiring coverings or face masks on passengers.

Updated on Friday at 7:36 p.m. ET

Most of the nation's airlines are beginning to require passengers to wear face coverings or masks on flights to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Southwest and Alaska Airlines announced Friday they will join American, Delta, United, Frontier and JetBlue in taking the action amid growing pressure from Congress and their own employees.

Two more airlines are reporting staggering losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. American Airlines announced Thursday that because of a sharp decline in air travel, the company lost more than $2.2 billion in the first quarter of 2020. United Airlines reported a $1.7 billion loss for the quarter.

Boeing's chief executive is painting a dire picture of the air travel industry, telling shareholders in a virtual annual meeting on Monday that it may take several years for commercial airlines to recover from the huge drop-off caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

That means Boeing will need to borrow more money to stay afloat, and significant job and production cuts could be coming to the company's airplane manufacturing plants.

Boeing CEO David Calhoun presented the grim outlook.

In the midst of Chicago's brutal January cold and knowing that March brings its own kind of misery to the Midwest, Mary Fabianski made plans to spend a week in early spring on Florida's beaches with family.

She booked a flight to Sarasota on United Airlines for $488 round trip on Jan. 22, before the pandemic started affecting travel in the U.S. But as it got closer to her March 29 travel date, Fabianski suspected the trip might not happen. Still, she didn't cancel her plans right away.

United did that for her on March 26.

Boeing will start reopening its airplane manufacturing plants in Washington state next week, bringing 27,000 employees back to work under new safety protocols, the company said, even though customers are deferring and canceling orders for new planes.

Airlines are again pleading for government assistance, only this time, they want a break from some federal regulations instead of financial aid.

A global industry group warns that many of the world's airlines are running out of money and on the brink of financial collapse and therefore they cannot afford to give customers refunds for canceled flights.

Regulations in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere require airlines to fully refund fares paid by customers when the airline cancels their flight.

Airports around the world are a lot quieter these days, with hardly anyone flying because of travel restrictions to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

And some of the nation's busiest airports are about to get even quieter, as airlines slash service this week into and out of the three major New York City area airports.

Two more big airplane manufacturing facilities are shutting down because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Airbus is temporarily halting production at its manufacturing plant in Mobile, Ala., where it makes A220 and A320 passenger jets, idling about 1,100 employees. And Boeing is closing down its 787 campus in North Charleston, S.C., affecting about 7,000 workers.

It appears most, if not all of the nation's major airlines have applied for a share of $50 billion in federal coronavirus aid.

Delta, American, United, Southwest and JetBlue, among others, met a 5 p.m. ET deadline to apply to the Treasury Department for payroll grants, loans or both.

Airlines are slashing service, canceling hundreds of flights a day as the number of people traveling on planes plummets. And the numbers from just the past month are stark. The TSA screened only 146,000 people at airport security checkpoints across the country on March 31, down 93.5% from the almost 2.3 million screened on March 1.

Arriving at Reagan National Airport in Washington on Tuesday for a flight to Newark, N.J., Greg Weinman expected to see at least a few other people. Instead, "It's empty. It was eerily quiet. There was nobody in the security line," he says.

Updated 3:14 p.m. ET

A pretty big chunk of the $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief package will go to the commercial aviation industry; most notably, the airlines, airports and airplane manufacturer Boeing.

This is a surreal time to be going to work inside of an airport.

"This is shocking, the speed in which this has completely changed our lives," says Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, the union representing 50,000 flight attendants at 20 different airlines.

"When we get to the plane, the first thing we're checking is, do we have the mask and gloves? Do we have hand sanitzer? Do we have the sani-wipes to be able to wipe things down?"

Ethiopian investigators said a flawed flight control system triggered by faulty sensor data, is at least partly to blame for last year's crash of a 737 Max airplane operated by Ethiopian Airlines. All 157 people on board were killed.

Authorities in Ethiopia also said training on the Max planes provided by Boeing "was found to be inadequate" adding that the flight control system, known as MCAS, was activated four times as pilots struggled mightily to regain control of the plane before the crash.

Across the country and around the world, flights are being canceled, trade shows are being called off and businesses are cutting back on employee travel — all because of fears related to the spread of the new coronavirus.

The sudden and unforeseen slowdown could cost the travel industry billions of dollars.

Boeing's troubled 737 Max airplane will now remain grounded from passenger service until at least June or July, which is months later than the company had previously suggested.

And that means airlines will likely cancel Max flights through the busy summer travel season.

The three U.S. airlines that fly the 737 Max, American, Southwest, and United, had already removed the planes from their flight schedules into early June.

Updated at 11 a.m. ET

As he moves into the chief executive's suite in Boeing's 36-story world headquarters building in downtown Chicago today, David Calhoun will find he has monumental tasks ahead of him.

The aerospace giant is still reeling from the fallout of two 737 Max jetliner crashes — in Indonesia in October 2018 and in Ethiopia last March — that killed a total of 346 people.

Updated at 9:58 p.m. ET

The latest documents Boeing has released related to the design and certification of the 737 Max paint a dark picture of employee reactions to problems that came up during the development of the now-grounded airliners.

The documents include emails and internal communications. In one message, employees mock the Federal Aviation Administration and brag about getting regulators to approve the jets without requiring much additional pilot training.

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