David Schaper | Connecticut Public Radio
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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.

A sweeping congressional inquiry into the development and certification of Boeing's troubled 737 Max airplane finds damning evidence of failures at both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration that "played instrumental and causative roles" in two fatal crashes that killed a total of 346 people.

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The old metal gumball machine is still there - standing in a corner near the door. It's scorched and some of its plastic is melted but it's still standing there. But very little else inside what was The Good Taste Ice Cream Shoppe in Kenosha is recognizable as the blackened remains of the roof, walls, tables, chairs, and other fixtures are scattered about in heaps of charred wood and twisted and scorched metal.

Protests over a police shooting of a Black father in Kenosha, Wis., continued for a fourth straight night on Wednesday. Though the gatherings again defied the county-imposed curfew, the demonstrations remained mostly peaceful.

The crowds were smaller than on previous nights, and the relative calm was a stark contrast to the scene that unfolded during the third night of protests, which turned chaotic and deadly.

The thought of packing herself onto a crowded bus or train makes Magali Olson cringe.

"I'm afraid to really take the train," Olson says. "I mean, I don't know if people are being clean or not, you know?"

She is able to work from home some days, but she's had to ride Chicago's Blue Line trains two days a week to her job at an insurance company downtown.

"Although I had Clorox wipes to clean everything, before I sat or touch anything, I was still a little scared," she says. "Some people weren't wearing masks, so it's a little scary."

The number of people flying on commercial jetliners is down 75% from last summer, but the rate of those getting caught either inadvertently or deliberately trying to bring a gun on board is soaring.

Transportation Security Administration officers are finding guns in carry on bags at security checkpoints at a rate three times higher than they did last summer. And 80% of those guns are loaded.

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

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The Federal Aviation Administration is ordering emergency inspections of about 2,000 Boeing 737 airplanes because of a possible engine valve problem that could lead to engine failure.

The FAA's emergency air worthiness directive orders inspections of older 737 Classic and Next Generation planes that may have been in storage as a result of sharply reduced air travel demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Federal Aviation Administration is taking another step towards re-certifying Boeing's 737 Max, saying it plans to issue a proposed airworthiness directive for the grounded jetliner "in the near future."

In a statement, the FAA says the impending airworthiness directive will address Boeing's design changes to fix a flawed flight control system that is partly to blame for two 737 Max plane crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people.

Over the last three months, Delta Air Lines lost nearly $6 billion as the company's CEO said a slow, brief recovery in air travel has now stalled amid a big resurgence in coronavirus infections.

Delta is the first U.S. airline to report second-quarter financial results; it is the first full quarter since the pandemic began, and the results are worse than anticipated.

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.

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

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

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.

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.

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

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.

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

NOEL KING, HOST:

To make flying safer, airlines are requiring passengers and crew members to wear masks. Some airlines have blocked out the middle seats for social distancing. And there could be more measures coming. Here's NPR's David Schaper.

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.

On a day the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy shrank 4.8% in the first quarter, ending a record long expansion, a company that usually represents American economic might has bad news, as well.

Boeing reported a $641 million loss for the first quarter and announced it will be cutting back airplane production and eliminating thousands of jobs.

The aerospace giant will reduce the size of its global workforce by 10%, eliminating about 16,000 jobs as the company adjusts to nearly nonexistent demand for air travel in the wake of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

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.

Updated at 7:49 p.m. ET

Struggling U.S. airlines finally have a deal in principle with the Trump administration to get a share of $25 billion in federal coronavirus relief that they were supposed to get last week.

The payroll support payments will keep pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, gate agents and other employees on airline payrolls through September.

In a statement, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the department will work with the airlines to finalize the deals "and disperse the funds as quickly as possible."

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