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Assuming I am interpreting the below FAR correctly, one must either be solo, or have an instructor present to complete the long cross country requirement. More specifically, it seems to me that you could meet the requirements with a passenger present if an instructor is on board.

§61.129 Aeronautical experience.

(4) Ten hours of solo flight time in a single engine airplane or 10 hours of flight time performing the duties of pilot in command in a single engine airplane with an authorized instructor on board (either of which may be credited towards the flight time requirement under paragraph (a)(2) of this section), on the areas of operation listed under §61.127(b)(1) that include—

(i) One cross-country flight of not less than 300 nautical miles total distance, with landings at a minimum of three points, one of which is a straight-line distance of at least 250 nautical miles from the original departure point.

I'm trying to understand what the purpose of the solo requirement is, and how it could be alternatively achieved without being solo, but only if an instructor is onboard.

It's clearly not for safety of the passenger, since, as a private pilot, its completely legal for me to make the very same flight with a passenger; I just can't use it to meet the commercial requirement quoted above. Why not? And how could adding an instructor to the plane make any difference?

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  • $\begingroup$ They addressed this question at askacfi.com/5172/…. For insurance purposes, it is often not possible to solo in a twin or helicopter and for consistency, they extended it to single engine. It also allows you to count time working on your IFR toward the commercial. e.g. if your long IFR cross-country can count for your commercial as well. $\endgroup$ – JScarry Feb 26 '17 at 15:32
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    $\begingroup$ The askcfi link doesn't answer the question why the x-country must be done solo (except where they waive the requirement). What is the harm in allowing the long cross country occur with a passenger onboard for the purpose of this requirement? $\endgroup$ – Greg Taylor Feb 26 '17 at 22:15
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I got this answer to my question from a CFI...

The idea behind the solo requirement is to assure the pilot can accomplish the trip unassisted. Other passengers are permitted if an instructor is present because the instructor will assure that the passengers do not assist with the flight.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure I buy this answer, but it's the best I've heard so far. $\endgroup$ – Greg Taylor Mar 1 '17 at 15:52
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What they're really after here is can you flight plan a trip to a different region of a country or continent and successfully navigate it. This requires more through flight preparation to an unfamiliar airport or where the weather may be different or changing from you time of departure to your ETA. It also forces you to cope with changing conditions e.g. day into night, etc.

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