David Schaper

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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.

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.

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.

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?"

United Airlines is threatening massive employee layoffs, furloughs or pay cuts if Congress doesn't pass a coronavirus economic relief package by the end of this month.

The air travel industry is suffering enormous financial losses because of the coronavirus outbreak as governments and businesses around the world restrict travel.

Thursday, the Transportation Security Administration reported screening the fewest number of airline passengers ever. Only about 624,000 people passed through airport security checkpoints, compared to 2.4 million people on the same day last year.

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.

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New evidence indicates that Boeing pilots knew about "egregious" problems with the 737 Max airplane three years ago, but federal regulators were not told about them.

Investigators say the plane's new flight control system, called MCAS, is at least partially to blame for 737 Max crashes in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia this year that killed 346 people. Acting on data from a single, faulty angle-of-attack sensor, MCAS repeatedly forced both planes into nosedives as the pilots struggled, but failed to regain control.

Sounding like a huge swarm of angry bees or maybe a hedge trimmer on steroids, a small quadcopter lifts up off of a landing pad in front of the main hospital building on the WakeMed campus in Raleigh, N.C. Underneath it is a metal box — smaller than a shoebox — with vials of blood samples inside of it that are now heading across the campus to the lab for analysis, guided by a drone operator on the ground.

It's not a long trip.

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Boeing is changing its operations. The company has been under intense pressure as it settles lawsuits by families of those killed in two separate crashes of its 737 Max jets. Here's NPR's David Schaper.

Updated at 8:30 p.m. ET

With American Airlines joining United in pulling 737 Max planes from their schedules and cancelling flights into early November, many travel industry observers are bracing for the next shoe to drop: higher priced fares and cancelled flights for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays season.

American Airlines announced Monday it is pulling the 737 Max from its schedule through Nov. 2, canceling about 115 flights per day. American reported last week that the Max grounding has already cost the airline $185 million in lost revenue.

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Boeing says it has a software fix ready for its 737 Max airplanes that will be unveiled to airline officials, pilots and aviation authorities from around the world Wednesday, as the aircraft manufacturer works to rebuild trust among its customers and the flying public following two fatal crashes of the planes in recent months.

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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.

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Jacinda says she has "no idea" what her family will do if the government shutdown continues past January. Her husband's last paycheck was Dec. 28 and, like many federal workers, he's unlikely to get his next one at the end of this week. He may not get the one after that, due at the end of January, either.

"Our rent is due, the electric bill is due, our cellphones are now past due," she says.

Her husband is a TSA officer in Portland, Ore., but he's not speaking publicly because the Transportation Security Administration forbids personnel to do so.

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When Amazon gave its reasons for putting new headquarters in New York and Arlington, Va., one of them was access to public transit. A new study shows other companies think the exact same way. Here's NPR's David Schaper.

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Sears was once the largest retailer in the United States. The company owned a radio station in Chicago with the call letters WLS, which stood for World's Largest Store. But now Sears is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. NPR's David Schaper reports.

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