David Schaper

Updated October 15, 2021 at 10:08 AM ET

A federal grand jury has indicted a former chief technical pilot at Boeing, alleging that he deliberately deceived safety regulators at the Federal Aviation Administration as the agency evaluated and certified the troubled 737 Max airplane.

The indictment charged Mark Forkner, 49, with six counts of fraud, accusing him of providing the FAA with "false, inaccurate and incomplete information" about a new automated flight control system on the 737 Max.

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Updated September 17, 2021 at 1:03 PM ET

A debate is heating up over whether President Biden's sweeping vaccine mandate should be extended to cover those who travel domestically by plane and train.

It's hard to fathom now, but we used to be able to arrive at the airport just minutes before a flight. We'd keep our shoes and coats on as we went through a simple metal detector, and virtually anyone could go right to the gate without a boarding pass or even showing an ID.

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Twenty years ago, you could arrive at an airport at the last minute and walk through a metal detector without taking off your shoes. But that has changed since the September 11 terrorist attacks as airport security evolved to meet new threats.

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President Biden is celebrating a big win for one of his top legislative priorities, touting a bipartisan agreement on a framework to roughly double spending on transportation and infrastructure over the next eight years.

"Today is a huge day for one-half of my economic agenda," Biden said Thursday as he lauded the agreement that would spend $1.2 billion to repair, rebuild and expand roads, bridges, railroads, public transit, airports, water and sewer infrastructure and broadband.

Just as hundreds of thousands of Americans return to the skies again this summer, many of the old inconveniences and aggravations of commercial airline travel are back, too. And experts say travelers should expect ongoing problems throughout the busy summer season.

Long lines at security checkpoints, disruptive passengers and lengthy flight delays and cancellations are greeting many air travelers who may not have boarded a plane in 15 months or more because of the pandemic.

Each week, we answer frequently asked questions about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions." See an archive of our FAQs here.

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There's good news and bad news for Americans who have been itching to take a European vacation. Spain reopens to vaccinated tourists on June 7. Greece, Germany, France, Italy, Croatia and other countries are opening up again soon.

But in order to go, travelers will have to show proof that they've been vaccinated, and it's not yet clear how they'll do that. That's causing a lot of confusion among those with pent-up wanderlust, as demand for air travel has been soaring in recent weeks.

Complaints about airlines refusing to pay refunds for canceled flights during the pandemic soared more than 5,500% over the previous year. Some customers are still trying to fight airlines for refunds, while others, who got credit or vouchers for future travel instead, are finding that those credits may soon expire.

And that's outraging some consumers who as taxpayers came to the rescue of the industry when airlines lost billions during the pandemic.

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Looking for a nonstop flight between Appleton, Wis., and Savannah, Ga.? It'll soon be available. Or how about Austin, Texas, to Nashville, Tenn.? Louisville, Ky., to Los Angeles? Or from just about anywhere to Bozeman, Mont.?

Those are some of the new, unconventional domestic routes that airlines are now offering as they try to capitalize on the huge pent-up demand for leisure travel and inch back toward profitability while waiting for business travel to bounce back.

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Hundreds of people gathered in the Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis this afternoon for the funeral of 20-year-old Daunte Wright.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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At George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, a crowd gathered earlier this afternoon when they heard that the jury had reached a verdict. And this was the sound of the reaction there as the verdict was read.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD AMBIENCE)

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A new possible problem with Boeing's 737 Max airplanes has several airlines once again pulling dozens of the troubled jets out of service.

Boeing said in a statement that it has "recommended to 16 customers that they address a potential electrical issue in a specific group of 737 MAX airplanes prior to further operations."

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Just two months ago, airlines were warning about furloughing thousands of pilots. Now they're putting up help-wanted signs. As NPR's David Schaper reports, that's because air travel seems to be recovering more quickly than expected.

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