Drones for Norway

North Dakota’s SkySkopes partners with Friendly International Consult

Representatives of SkySkopes and FIC shaking hands.

Photo courtesy of Friendly International Consult
The agreement between SkySkopes and FIC was made during Norsk Høstfest, the Scandinavian festival held annually in Minot, N.D., where the drones were also available for visitors to test fly.

Molly Jones
The Norwegian American

At the end of September, SkySkopes and Friendly International Consult (FIC) agreed on a partnership to bring U.S. drones to Norway. The agreement was made during Norsk Høstfest, the Scandinavian festival held annually in Minot, N.D., where the drones were also available for visitors to test fly.

With the ultimate goal of making the national energy grid more reliable and efficient, SkySkopes creates unmanned aircraft to aerially inspect energy infrastructure. Its large fleet is also used for the oil and agriculture industries, security, and training certification.

North Dakota has become a national leader in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) industry, and SkySkopes was the first startup in the state legally approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly unmanned aircraft for business purposes. The company is based in Grand Forks but recently opened an office in Minot, a city considered to be a prime location for UAS operations because of its rural setting and open skies.

“Minot represents a military-friendly community and is the perfect staging location for flight operations in western North Dakota,” said SkySkopes President and CEO Matt Dunlevy.

Friendly International Consult is a Norwegian business development firm that helps SMEs add value through new relationships and international networks. In addition to building international relationships, FIC also offers project development and management support. The firm has developed a knowledge base and contact network around the world—from Europe and the U.S. to China and Russia—to best serve their clients.

“This is essential—another relationship between the state of North Dakota and the city of Minot and the country of Norway. It’s a mutual culture—Scandinavian heritage—and a mutual interest in an industry of UAS,” said Dunlevy in an interview with Your News Leader.

“Permissions in the country of Norway are great for practice for our pilots being able to fly beyond visual line of sight because our country does not currently allow those operations. And it’s a way to bridge the Atlantic,” he added.

According to FIC, Norway will also benefit from the partnership. “For us, especially within oil and gas, and also electricity—you know, the power lines, inspections, and possibly also other areas. The need is just as much in Norway as it is in the U.S.,” said Erling Dahl, chairman of FIC.

Their partnership with SkySkopes is not the Norwegian firm’s first experience working with organizations in the Midwest, however. FIC has also developed partnerships with the Minot Area Development Corporation and the Midwest Chapter of the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce.

SkySkopes is no stranger to working with Norwegian partners either. In fact, at Høstfest in 2016, the company announced a partnership with Robot Aviation, Norway’s most impressive UAS manufacturer, which also has its U.S. headquarters in North Dakota.

“SkySkopes is a highly skilled professional operator that has experience in flying single and multi rotor as well as fixed wing airframes. We see them as a national leader that has many certifications. It is a company we appreciate very much working together with,” said Per Kristian, CEO of Robot Aviation.

Within the next year or two, Dunlevy plans to have the SkySkopes team visit Norway.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 1, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.