Flying the Line: A Q&A with Our Regional Chief Pilot

Luke Wadach TSA
Captain Wadach on a non-revenue Part 91 flight.

Which regional airline is best for you? Pilots who join our airline family know that they’re in good hands, and that their careers are on the rise.

Trans States offers one of the fastest Captain upgrades as fast as eight months and the highest signing bonus in the industry, up to $60,000.

Curious about what life on the line is like at Trans States? Read our Q&A with Regional Chief Pilot, Luke Wadach!

What sets Trans States apart from other regional air carriers?

Trans States Airlines is unique because it is a smaller regional airline with unique opportunities to share with our pilot group that aren’t available elsewhere. For example, we are always encouraging our own pilots to become Ground and Simulator Instructors, Line Check Airman and to consider joining the management team in our training and Flight Ops departments. Those opportunities are assets to enhancing careers towards the majors.

What can Trans States pilots expect when they start flying the line?

Trans States pilots can expect to fly with great crew members and travel to some pretty neat destinations. Some of our destinations include Cody, WY, where they can visit Yellowstone National Park; Flagstaff, AZ to see the Grand Canyon and Monterey, CA, which is a nice coastal city.

Line pilots can also expect to face some everyday challenges such as weather and traffic congestion on and around major airports. Our pilots do a phenomenal job managing these situations while maintaining a high level of customer service. We have a great pilot group and they really enjoy working with one another.

Do applicants normally receive their top base choice? Tell us more about base assignments.

Currently, we are assigning all domiciles in training. DEN is our most junior base, followed by ORD, and then STL. Applicants who want Denver and Chicago are being awarded their top choice immediately in training. Applicants who want STL will receive their choice towards the end of training or within 1 or 2 months after being released to the line.

What are the benefits of having Denver as a base?

Many of our new-hire pilots desire and are being awarded a Denver base. The benefit of this is that time on reserve is very minimal, along with providing an easy commuting option for pilots who live in the western half of the US. With Denver being our largest base, it has opened up our route structure so we now have destinations like Monterey, CA and Medford, OR on the West Coast.  With the Preferential Bidding System (PBS), there are several parameters used to allow crews to build customized schedules and take advantage of the diverse flying Denver has to offer.

How does the Captain upgrade process work at Trans States Airlines?

The Captain upgrade process is roughly a 6-week process. The upgrade footprint consists of seven days of ground school, two sessions in our Graphical Flight Simulator (GFS), an oral exam, seven simulator sessions, a checkride and then one session of Line Oriented Flight Training (LOFT). Once that is complete, 25 hours of Initial Operating Experience (IOE) is completed with one of our Line Check Airman. We hold upgrade classes once per month and currently, there is no waiting time for upgrade. Candidates who are qualified (14 CFR 121.436) are awarded the next month’s upgrade class.

What do you love the most about working with Trans States?

The best part about working at Trans States is the people who I have the pleasure to work with. Whether working alongside co-workers at our headquarters in St. Louis or flying a trip out on the line, hands down we have the best group of aviation professionals. We have a very tight knit pilot group, unlike what you might find at some of the larger airlines.

Do you have more questions? Visit to ask a line pilot any questions you have about flying with Trans States! Click here, and scroll to the bottom of the page to submit your questions.

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