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Model 36 - Photo Ship - Doors or Windows Removed

I have a 1968 Model 36 that has been asked to be used as a photo platform for an upcoming airshow. I have done some research and understand that door removal is an approved configuration, however that brings up a whole host of questions and issues.

So I wanted to see if there were any thoughts or knowledge on the legality of flying with the emergency exit windows removed instead of the rear doors.

Model: Bonanza 36
Posted 9/4/2023 - 5 months ago
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Shawn, first thing I’d do is check with your insurance carrier and get an OK from them in writing. I do know in my own Bonanza, the only way to completely remove the emergency exit windows is to drive out the piano hinge pins at the top. This can be difficult if the pins have been in there for a while and tends to scuff up the paint.

Posted 9/5/2023 - 5 months ago
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Second thing… apparently, from the POH Section 7 Systems Description, only the aft door is approved for removal. The POH BEECHCRAFT - Bonanza 36, A36 Systems Description E-1 thru E-926 says:
OPERATION WITH AFT UTILITYDOOR REMOVED
This Bonanza is approved for operation with THE AFT UTILITY DOOR REMOVED (my emphasis). The factory installed placards pertaining to airspeed and other operating restrictions when the utility door is removed are reproduced in the LIMITATIONS section. With the doors removed, assure that all registration numbers are visible on the side of the airplane. It is the responsibility of the owner and operator to contact the nearest FAA General Aviation District Office (GADO… er… now FSDO) for authorization to use the airplane for the specific operation with the door removed.

Removing more than the specified “aft” doors seemingly would be a “Major Alteration” as defined by (14cfr43(a)(iii)-“fuselage”) to the aircraft TCDS and certainly a weight & balance change. This requires other paperwork such as a Form 337 and new Wt & Bal documentation.

Reach out to the FSDO, call your insurance company like Steve suggests and OMG... make sure your photographer is strapped in! Hope ya get excellent photos...

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POH A36 Utility doors removed.pdf - 72.3 KB

Posted 9/5/2023 - 5 months ago
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Posted 9/5/2023 - 5 months ago
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Thank you everyone; I had seen those materials and were helpful.

So unfortunately after discussing with the insurance broker, they were very apprehensive. My policy is for non-commercial operations and mentioned that there were too many ways that the insurance company could cast doubt on a non-commercial application in this situation (for an airshow; pictures of other planes and promotional materials; a commercial pilot specifically needed to be the PIC...etc) and make any claims invalid.

Etc...

Posted 9/5/2023 - 5 months ago
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In reply to: Shawn M. Britton | 9/5/2023 - 5 months ago

Thank you everyone; I had seen those materials and were helpful.

So unfortunately after discussing with the insurance broker, they were very apprehensive. My policy is for non-commercial operations and mentioned that there were too many ways that the insurance company could cast doubt on a non-commercial application in this situation (for an airshow; pictures of other planes and promotional materials; a commercial pilot specifically needed to be the PIC...etc) and make any claims invalid.

Etc...

Not surprising. Most aviation policies have an exclusion for conducting aerial photography, even if it's not for hire.

Posted 9/5/2023 - 5 months ago
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Model 36 - Photo Ship - Doors or Windows Removed