As per subject has anyone flown an airliner (737, A319 etc etc or bigger) solo? (meaning only 1 pilot alone with no passengers?) Tried to google search but did not find any reference. Question applies to any of modern airliners era with and without flight engineer.
In normal operations there are regulations against this sort of thing (as Dave has said). But there have been a few emergencies where the First Office or the Captain have become incapacitated (due to medical emergencies), and the remaining pilot has declined to ask if there is another pilot on board to help fly the plane.
Here is an example from 2011 of a Ryanair flight having this occur**, I have heard of others but can't find references. So, admittedly, that may be the only actual occurrence.
So, to finally answer your questions: Very rarely, in an emergency situation, there can be a single pilot on a commercial airliner. Granted, there were passengers on board, so I'm not sure it fits your narrow definition of "solo", but it's about as close as it's going to get.
For completeness (though I don't think it counts), there have been a few instances of a single pilot stealing a commercial jetliner.
For example this 727. There were actually two people involved, one was a mechanic, the other had a private pilots license (hence the pilot was "soloing"). The aircraft has not been seen since...so it's assumed it ended badly, and, for the record, it's also assumed the pilot was coerced (if indeed he was even flying the plane).
There are a couple more incidents, namely this Antonov-26, which was stolen by a mechanic, circled for an hour, then crashed. And also this ATR-42-320, which was actually stolen by a Captain form Air Botswana. He circled the airport for a couple of hours demanding to speak to everyone from his girlfriend, to his boss to the President of Botswana. They were actually arranging to have him speak with the president when he crashed his plane into two other Air Botswana ATR-42-320s that were parked on the ground. He was the only one killed.
Again, though, I'm not sure if these fit the criteria you are looking for. But in that last one, at very least, he was the only person on board the aircraft, it was a commercial aircraft and he was in fact a Captain.
But to say all this an irregularity would be an extreme understatement...
** For clarification: The reason I state this is the only example I could find is because it's the only one where I could find a report where it was specifically stated the remaining pilot had no help. To quote from the report:
Once the initial Cabin Crew assistance was complete, the Captain indicated that he did not need assistance in operating the aircraft, although this was suggested in the operator’s procedures for pilot incapacitation. The First Officer took no further part in the operation of the aircraft. No inquiries as to the possible presence on board the aircraft of either medically trained personnel or qualified pilots were made.
All other examples I saw either specifically stated that a new co-pilot was found, or they skipped that detail entirely.
All of that being said, I somehow doubt this is the only case, it's just the only one I could explicitly verify.
One more example of a single pilot for at least part of the flight: Discovery Channel did a special that involved actually crashing a jetliner. I do not recall the crew configuration at takeoff but I do recall that the bailout was handled in two stages, the pilot only going once everyone else was away. The plane was being flown by remote control once he abandoned the controls.
This did not happen in the USA, as others have said it would be illegal. Mexico allowed it with restrictions, though.
Airplanes are certified to be operated with a particular amount of crew. From a regulation standpoint there are jets certified for single pilot operations but they tend to be on the smaller size (Citation Mustang comes to mind). That being said I cant say that these planes have never been flown in a single pilot situation.
This EU EASA document states that the minimum crew for a 737 is two
- Minimum Flight Crew: Two (2): Pilot and Co-pilot, for all types of flight
The US type cert for the 737 says
Minimum Crew for All Flights: 2 (Pilot and Copilot)
which applies to all the following 737 models
DATA PERTINENT TO MODELS 737 Original Series -100, -200, -200C and 737 Classic Series -300, -400, -500:
So you could not do it in any kind of regular situation. It is possible that some of the planes were test flown with only a single pilot but I dont know for sure.
There has been a televised test crash of a Boeing 727 that took place in Mexico.
The airplane took off from General Rodolfo Sánchez Taboada International Airport in Mexicali, with the flight crew and a small group of passengers, as well as a number of crash dummies, and with a chase plane following close behind. As the flight progressed towards the Sonoran Desert of Baja California in Mexico, its occupants parachuted to safety. Slocum was the last one to leave the jet, four minutes before impact. Shanle then flew the jetliner by remote control, from the chase plane.
This started out fully manned, but ended with the pilot being the last to leave the craft, after handing control over to a remote operator in the chase plane.
However, this likely does not fall into the criteria of your question, since the documentation seems to indicate that the entire flight was remote controlled. Or at the very least does not explicitly state solo piloting.
An improperly installed windscreen panel separated from its frame, causing the plane's captain to be blown partially out of the aircraft. The co-pilot took control and performed an unassisted landing.