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Flight Explorer Flying Solo

Information technology firm Dimensions International Inc. (DI) of Alexandria, a new company and tapping a former four-star U.S. Air Force general to lead the group through its first funding round.

DI produces "Flight Explorer," an Internet-based, real-time aircraft situation display service. Legally called Flight Dimensions International, the new company will do business as Flight Explorer and will be based in Fairfax, Va., DI executives said.

Many online travel agencies and airlines use a irregularly-updated timetable system to inform travelers on where a flight is supposed to be. Flight Explorer combines FAA air traffic control reports, which are updated as often as every 10 seconds, with weather data to show a flight's actual location.

"This new venture is part of DI's strategy to be more agile and competitive in the marketplace for flight tracking information," DI Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Robert L. Wright said.

Wright also is the company's first director and will be chairman of Flight Explorer. A few other DI officials also will join the board, though details are still being worked out, Wright said.

Wright explained in a phone interview that DI is mainly a government contractor, and consultants recommended DI spin off Flight Explorer so it can react, grow and operate more like a private-sector enterprise. "It will move faster," he said.

Along those lines, Flight Explorer - funded thus far with an undisclosed amount from DI - will seek venture capital backing, Wright said. Details about who will invest, how much will be offered and when the funding round might close are all still under consideration, he said.

Retired General Walter Kross has been named Flight Explorer president and CEO. During the Persian Gulf War, Kross directed the largest transportation operation since World War II, DI officials said. They also said he was the prime champion for the Defense Department's Global Air Traffic Management program, teaming with the FAA to establish and fund it.

Other initial members of the Flight Explorer team include Patrick Herrity, senior vice president and chief financial officer, and Jeffrey Krawczyk, executive vice president and chief technology officer. Wright said the startup has about 15 employees now.

DI said Flight Explorer customers already include the Federal Aviation Administration, American Airlines, Cessna, Federal Express, Reno Air, Hertz, Lucent, WorldCom, Raytheon, Swissair, UPS, TRW and airport authorities in more than two dozen states.

DI was incorporated in Virginia in July 1988. Initially a marketing and management consulting firm with a staff of three, DI since has grown to 27 offices and more than 430 employees. The company specializes in information integration, logistics management and air space management support.

Washington Post
By Michael P. Bruno
Washtech.com Staff Writer

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