Can a student pilot (who is training for a private pilot certificate and holds only a student pilot certificate) do the 2 hour cross country that meets the requirments of 61.129(a)(3)(iii) and later have it count towards the Commercial Pilot certificate?
The short story is no. Your student must do that cross country after he/she holds a private pilot certificate. I know that's not what you want to hear, but the FAA has recently issued 2 letters of interpertation (October 2010 and January 2011) that make it clear. You can email me directly and I'll send a copy. I've posted some of the letter below.
II. Aeronautical experience for a commercial pilot certificate
Your final question deals with 14 C.F.R. 61. I29(a)(3)(iii), which requires that an applicant for a commercial pilot certificate complete a two-hour cross country flight. You ask whether a person who only has a student pilot certificate may complete this requirement while training for his or her private pilot certificate.
Section 61. 129(a)(3)(iii) requires applicants for a commercial pilot certificate to first complete "ne 2-hour cross country flight in a single engine airplane in daytime conditions that consists of a total straight -line distance of more than 100 nautical miles form the original point of departure." The notice of proposed rulemaking, which proposed the crosscountry flight requirement in § 61. 129(a)(3)(iii) explained that: The intent of the proposals is to increase applicants' exposure to the demands and pressures of cross-country navigation under both day and night conditions, in increasingly complex airspace conditions, and at commercial pilot level standards. The FAA believes that this additional experience under flight instructor supervision will help produce better trained commercial pilot applicants. 60 Fed. Reg. 41160, 41181-82 (Aug. 11, 1995) (promulgated with slight modifications on April 4, 1997,62 Fed. Reg. 16298).
The FAA recently issued an interpretation addressing a situation in which a pilot wanted to use the experience he obtained while training for a private pilot certificate to satisfy the night cross country experience required for a commercial pilot certificate. See Oct. 8,2010, Letter to Richard Theriault from Rebecca B. MacPherson, Assistant Chief Counsel for Regulations. The FAA's interpretation did not permit the pilot to use experience that he acquired while training for a private pilot certificate to satisfy the commercial pilot requirements. Id.
Because a student pilot who is training for a private pilot certificate is not expected to perform at commercial-pilot-level standards, the type oftraining contemplated by § 61. 129(a)(3)(iii) is not interchangeable with the kind required for a private pilot certificate. See id.; 60 Fed. Reg. at 41181-82. Accordingly, any cross-country training experienced by a student pilot would not be credited toward the requirements of § 61.129(a)(3)(iii).
We appreciate your patience and trust that the above responds to your concerns. If you need further assistance, please contact my staff at (202) 267-3011. This response was prepared by Alex Zektser, Attorney, Regulations Division of the Office of the Chief Counsel, and coordinated with the General Aviation and Commercial Division of Flight Standards Service.