System 21 ®
Its Origin and Future

The System 21 Technology                                             
System
21 represents a major advance in rail transit, combining the best performance and operating characteristics of existing rail, fixed guideway and automated people mover systems into a new and innovative design, at a fraction of the capital cost per mile.  In addition, System 21 offers unique and improved aesthetic and operating features such as a slender, elevated guideway and a compact, new switching mechanism that permits unique flexibility in establishing transit networks and service capabilities.  These significant cost, environmental and operating advantages have lead the Company and its industry colleagues to believe that System 21 will be a preferred rail technology and a significant competitor in the international transit marketplace.

Aerospace Origins
The System 21 monobeam was originally conceived by a design team at Lockheed Missiles and Space in the early 1970's under the leadership of aerospace engineer Larry Edwards. Edwards later departed Lockheed with the development rights to the technology, and founded FUTREX in 1986 as a Delaware corporation, where he continued to develop and refine System 21 from the Company's Northern Virginia headquarters. In the early 1990's, the FUTREX management team began to expand to advance the technology from the drawing board to the market. In 1995, the Company relocated to North Charleston, SC to take advantage of the funding and manufacturing opportunities created by the closure of the Charleston Naval Complex.

The Quarter-Scale Model
In 1996, FUTREX unveiled a $1.6 million operational System 21quarter-scale model to worldwide industry and media acclaim. The "proof-of-concept" model demonstrated System 21 's unique, cantilevered vehicle suspension system and validated the modular approach to prefabricated guideway design. It also proved the team approach to managing the project, with FUTREX joined by Battelle , Frederic R. Harris, Inc. (now DMJM+HARRIS, Inc.), CMMC/Metal Trades, Inc. and Powers Design International to complete the project, on time and under budget. The effort was the result of a unique public/private partnership entered into by FUTREX with the City of Charleston and the U.S. Department of Commerce, which sponsored a $1.25 million loan to help finance the project in anticipation of future job creation at the former Charleston Naval Complex.

The Final Step to Market - Full-Scale Development
FUTREX has evaluated and pursued a number of alternative strategies to assemble the resources and capabilities for the final phase of System 21’s development—full-scale design, engineering and integration of the technology’s key components. From 1997-2001, FUTREX worked with Charleston area officials to demonstrate a full-scale prototype of System 21 near the Charleston International Airport.  Following this $40 million, three-year project, public officials would have had the option to initiate plans for extending the 1.25 mile prototype into a regional transit network connecting major regional activity and employment centers.  The U.S Congress had appropriated $6.2 million in Federal matching grants for the project.  Ultimately, the balance of anticipated project funding in the form of a loan from the SC Transportation Infrastructure Bank and private financing from Asian joint venture partners could not be secured.

 

In 2002, the Company and its Asian partners submitted a proposal to install a three-mile automated people mover at the Manila International Airport.  This initial commercial installation would have completed System 21’s full-scale development and accelerated FUTREX’s business plan significantly.  In late 2003, after several approvals by Airport officials, the project became embroiled in a larger, international dispute involving development at the Airport and has been delayed ever since.

 

In 2004, FUTREX began pursuing parallel strategies to complete key elements of System 21’s full-scale development, while also attempting to secure an initial commercial installation.  While the Company has identified several promising project opportunities and reached preliminary agreements, these projects have not materialized.  In addition, FUTREX had to relinquish eligibility to the remaining Federal grants for technology development in 2008, when private matching funds could not be obtained.

 

In June, 2008, and with assistance from an investment banking firm, FUTREX initiated a formal offering to sell the Company and its System 21 technology.  After four months of distributing information and discussions involving preliminary interest from companies around the world, it became evident that the offering would not conclude successfully in the deteriorating international financial climate.

 

The Current Approach

FUTREX and its industry colleagues remain convinced of the soundness and potential of System 21 as a more affordable and efficient rail transit solution. As countries around the world, including the U.S., begin to more aggressively grapple with growth, congestion, energy and pollution issues, alternatives like System 21 become even more critical.  The Board of Directors has recently decided to invite interest in a cooperative research arrangement that might attract foundations, universities and other non-profit organizations and creative financing to the continued development of this innovative and promising technology See News   The Company welcomes interest and creative proposals from qualified organizations which might participate in a public-private partnership to preserve and develop System 21.

 

 

 

 

 

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