Coincidentally, I have some insiders' information on both the Alaska and Emery aircraft that recently crashed in California that I would like to share with you.
During the late 80's and early 90's, I was employed as a line maintenance aircraft mechanic with Tracor Aviation at SBA (Santa Barbara, CA). The crew that I worked with performed HMV's (Heavy Maintenance Visits) on B-727-200's from United and Continental. During this period our company received several MD-80's, ferried from Long Beach, for paint jobs only, to be delivered to Alaska Airlines. I never worked on any of the latter myself, but I do recall seeing quite a bit of structural and mechanical repairs being performed. At the time, I thought it was quite strange that brand new aircraft, supposedly in for "paint only", would require that much maintenance.
In the weeks after the crash in the Santa Barbara Channel, the news reports began to alarm me. Why would a financially troubled company like Douglas farm out this work to our's? At the time, I was unaware of the results of the audits being performed in Long Beach. To me now, it just does not look right. I smell a rat!
In the mid-to-late 80's, I was employed as a ramper with Ontario Aircraft Service at ONT (Ontario, CA). One of the carriers that we provided ground service to was Emery. I was a K-loader operator. One of my responsibilities was to inspect main-deck cargo floor for inoperative floor locks, devices that secured each container (can) in position. The go/no-go test was that two of the four locks at each position had to be operational. I cannot remember a single Emery DC-8, where all of the floor locks worked; every one of their aircraft had at least some inop floor locks.
At the time, most of Emery's DC-8's were operated and maintained by a company called Rosenbaum Aviation (Rosie on the radio). These planes were ugly, inside and out. In contrast, UPS's DC-8's on the other side of the field were beautiful, both inside and out.
I always worried that a load-shifting problem like this would occur, and, unfortunately, I was right!
Quite a coincidence that I would have a direct connection to both of these doomed aircraft! I would appreciate any and all comments.