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Aviation Day to Feature United Airlines CEO

The Northwestern University Transportation Center will host two aviation-related events Tuesday, April 5: a special symposium honoring former center director Aaron J. Gellman, who turned 80 this past year, and a lecture by United Airlines CEO Jeffery A. Smisek.

“The Future of Aviation” symposium will feature distinguished industry experts addressing a range of topics, including the air traffic management system, the use of system data for monitoring aircraft health and the airport of the future. The event will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. in the McCormick Auditorium of the James L. Allen Center, 2169 Campus Drive.

Smisek, president and chief executive officer of United Continental Holdings, Inc., the world’s largest airline, then will deliver the 30th Annual William A. Patterson Transportation Lecture at 7:30 p.m. in the OLC Forum, Donald P. Jacobs Center, 2001 Sheridan Road. (United Continental Holdings, Inc., is the holding company for United Airlines and Continental Airlines.)

In his talk, “The New United: Flying to Win in a Changed Industry,” Smisek will cover rising fuel prices and how the new United will follow its “Go Forward Plan” to benefit employees, customers, shareholders and communities around the world.

“These are uniquely challenging times for the airline industry worldwide,” said Hani Mahmassani, director of the Transportation Center. “We are very excited that one of the industry’s most influential leaders will deliver this year’s Patterson Lecture and share his vision. We also are pleased to be honoring our colleague Aaron Gellman and his significant contributions to both the Transportation Center and the transportation industry.”

The symposium and lecture both are free and open to the public, but registration is required for the symposium.

A noted transportation economist, Gellman was director of the Transportation Center from 1992 to 2000. He is a professor of transportation and an adjunct professor of management and strategy at Northwestern.

The Patterson Transportation Lecture is an annual event supported by the Patterson Transportation Endowment, which was established at Northwestern in 1979 honoring the late William A. Patterson, founder and chief executive officer of United Airlines.

The Northwestern University Transportation Center is an interdisciplinary education and research institution at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. The center is dedicated to the long-term improvement of global transportation and supply chain systems.

- Megan Fellman