Mayday (TV series)

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Also known as Air Crash Investigation(s)
Air Emergency
(National Geographic Channel)
Air Disasters
(Smithsonian Channel)
Genre Documentary
Created by André Barro
Narrated by Stephen Bogaert for Canada and the USA
Bill Ratner for the USA (Smithsonian Channel)
Jonathan Aris for Australia, Asia and the UK
Country of origin Canada
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 15 (14 airing)
No. of episodes 131/132 (120 aired) (List of episodes)
Running time 40–55 minutes
Production company(s) Cineflix Productions
Original channel Discovery Channel Canada
National Geographic Channel
Original run 3 September 2003 – present
External links
Production website

Mayday, also known as Air Crash Investigation(s) in Australia, South Africa, Asia and some European countries, and Air Emergency and Air Disasters in the United States, is a Canadian documentary television program produced by Cineflix investigating air crashes, near-crashes, hijackings, bombings and other disasters. Mayday uses re-enactments and computer-generated imagery to reconstruct for its audiences the sequence of events leading up to each disaster. In addition, aviation experts, retired pilots and crash investigators are interviewed explaining how these emergencies came about, how they were investigated and how they could have been prevented.

Cineflix started production on 13 August 2002 (2002-08-13), with a CDN$2.5 million budget. Cineflix secured deals with France 5, the Discovery Channel, Canal D, TVNZ, the Seven Network, the Holland Media Group and the National Geographic Channel, to take Mayday to 144 countries and 26 languages. The series was received well by critics and nominated for a number of awards. Sharon Zupancic won a Gemini Award for her work on the Mayday episode, "Lockerbie Disaster". A UNSW senior lecturer, Raymond Lewis, conducted a study on teaching strategy loosely based on the series. Lewis's results indicated using the strategy had "a positive effect on learning outcomes."


The series features re-enactments, interviews, eyewitness testimony, computer-generated imagery, and in nearly all of the episodes, cockpit voice recordings to reconstruct the sequence of events to the audiences. Several passengers and crew members (whether they survived the incident or not) are picked and actors/actresses play the role of those passengers and crews throughout the flight usually starting from boarding of the flight. The flight routines in the air traffic control, cockpit and cabin are recreated on screen starting from departure up to the moment of the emergency. At the moment of the emergency, external view of the aircraft from different angles are recreated to show the effect and what had happened to the aircraft. The responses and reactions of the passengers, crews and air traffic control leading up to the eventual crash or emergency landing are then recreated. All the scenes in cockpit and air traffic control centers are recreated using the actual script obtained from the cockpit voice recorder of the aircraft and other recordings made at the time.

Throughout the episodes the victims or relatives and friends of victims are interviewed.[1][2] In addition aviation experts, retired pilots and investigators are interviewed on the evidence and explain how these emergencies came about and how they could have been prevented.[2]

Production and distribution[edit]

Cineflix started production for Mayday on 13 August 2002 (2002-08-13), with a CDN$2.5 million budget, after Channel Five commissioned the six-part one-hour series.[3] To keep the costs down most of the production was kept at Cineflix's Toronto offices in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[4] While in production the series was sold to France 5, Discovery Channel and Canal D.[5] On 2 June 2003 (2003-06-02), Cineflix announced that they sold the series to TVNZ, the Seven Network and the Holland Media Group,[5] later on 22 October 2003 (2003-10-22), a month before the airing of the first season, Cineflix announced that they secured a major international deal with National Geographic Channel to take Mayday to 144 countries and 26 languages.[6]

In 2011, Smithsonian Networks aired Season 5, making it the first time in the USA that Mayday had aired other than on National Geographic, the show was renamed to Air Disasters. On 25 January 2012, Cineflix Rights announced that they would be selling Seasons 8, 9 and 11 (23 episodes) to Smithsonian Networks.[7] On 28 March 2014, Cineflix Rights announced a deal between Smithsonian Network to air seasons 3, 4 and 13 (34 episodes).[8] Season 14 is currently airing.


As of 24 February 2015, a total of 120 episodes of Mayday have aired, including five "Science of Disaster" specials and three "Crash Scene Investigation" spin-offs. Season 14 of Mayday will premiere in the UK on 5 January 2015. A 15th season has been announced and will contain 11 episodes, including a special. Production began on 8 December 2014 and will end on 12 July 2015.

Season Episodes Originally aired DVD release dates
Season premiere Season finale Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
1 6 3 September 2003 (2003-09-03)[9] 22 October 2003 (2003-10-22)[9] TBA TBA 7 March 2013 (2013-03-07)[10]
2 6 23 January 2005 (2005-01-23)[11] 27 February 2005 (2005-02-27) TBA TBA 7 March 2013 (2013-03-07)[10]
3 13 14 September 2005 (2005-09-14)[12] 7 December 2005 (2005-12-07)[12] TBA TBA 7 March 2013 (2013-03-07)[10]
4 10 15 April 2007 (2007-04-15)[13] 17 June 2007 (2007-06-17)[12] TBA TBA 7 March 2013 (2013-03-07)[10]
5 10 16 April 2007 (2007-04-16)[12] 2 March 2008 (2008-03-02)[12] TBA TBA 7 March 2013 (2013-03-07)[10]
6 3 9 April 2008 (2008-04-09)[12] 11 June 2008 (2008-06-11)[12] TBA TBA 7 March 2013 (2013-03-07)[10]
7 8 4 November 2009 (2009-11-04)[14] 17 December 2009 (2009-12-17) TBA TBA 7 March 2013 (2013-03-07)[10]
8 2 10 June 2009 (2009-06-10)[15] 17 June 2009 (2009-06-17)[15] TBA TBA 7 March 2013 (2013-03-07)[10]
9 8 8 September 2010 (2010-09-08)[16] 27 October 2010 (2010-10-27) TBA TBA 7 March 2013 (2013-03-07)[10]
10 6 27 February 2011 (2011-02-27) 28 March 2011 (2011-03-28)[17] TBA TBA 7 March 2013 (2013-03-07)[10]
11 13 12 August 2011 (2011-08-12) 13 April 2012 (2012-04-13) TBA TBA 5 September 2012 (2012-09-05)[18]
12 13 3 August 2012 (2012-08-03) 15 April 2013 (2013-04-15) TBA TBA 14 August 2013 (2013-08-14)[19]
13 10 (11) 16 December 2013 (2013-12-16) 9 May 2014 (2014-05-09) TBA TBA TBA
14 10 or 11 5 January 2015 (2015-01-05)[20] 15 February 2015 (2015-02-15) TBA TBA TBA


The series has been received well by critics.[1][2] Paul Mavis from DVD Talk recommends Mayday as "Harrowing and surprisingly emotional" and continues with "Never exploitative, [Mayday] not only ratchets up the suspense with its well-done action scenes, it validates them by showing us the human side of these horrific air disasters."[1] Franck Tabouring from DVD Verdict said "It's a well-produced show with plenty of compelling information about tragic accidents, telling how some people survived and others didn't."[2]

Sharon Zupancic won the 25th Gemini Awards for Best Picture Editing in a Documentary Program or Series for her work on the Mayday episode "Lockerbie Disaster".[21] Season five of Mayday was nominated in the 24th Gemini Awards for Best General/Human Interest Series.[22] A number of Mayday episodes were nominated in the Canadian Society of Cinematographers Awards, including: "Flying Blind" in 2004, "Missed Approach" and "Miracle Flight" in 2008, and "Air India: Explosive Evidence" and "Fatal Distraction" in 2009.[23]

University of New South Wales's senior lecturer, Raymond Lewis, conducted a study on teaching strategy loosely based on the series. The study was done with prospective pilots studying the "Aircraft Systems for Aviators" undergraduate course by including "study of air accidents and incidents associated with aircraft systems". The results of the study showed "the use of air accidents and incident scenarios had a positive effect on learning outcomes."[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Mavis, Paul (15 April 2009). "Mayday — Air Disasters". DVD Talk. 
  2. ^ a b c d Mavis, Tabouring (23 April 2009). "Mayday — Air Disasters". DVD Verdict. 
  3. ^ "New Cineflix science series Mayday starts production" (Press release). Cineflix. 13 August 2002. 
  4. ^ Luke, Donna (1 January 2003). No Borders. Interview with Susan Zeller for Realscreen. 
  5. ^ a b "Cineflix goes global with popular science series Mayday. Germany's Prosieben latest channel to acquire the show" (Press release). Cineflix. 2 June 2003. 
  6. ^ "Cineflix International strikes NATGEO deal for new popular science series Mayday" (Press release). Cineflix. 22 October 2003. 
  7. ^ "Cineflix Rights seals North and Latin American deals" (Press release). Cineflix. January 25, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Cineflix Rights seals multiple deals in advance of MIPTV 2014" (Press release). Cineflix. March 28, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Mayday premieres on Discovery, Wednesday, September 3 at 10 p.m." (Press release). Cineflix. 14 August 2003. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Air Crash Investigations: Season 1-12 Collection (Limited Edition Box Set) (DVD)". EzyDVD Pty Ltd. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  11. ^ "Mayday – Popular Cineflix series returns to Discovery Channel with two new back-to-back episodes, Sunday, January 23, 2005, at 8 pm ET" (Press release). Cineflix. 1 December 2004. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Mayday (a Titles & Air Dates guide), epguides, 14 July 2013 
  13. ^ "A New Season of Mayday Takes Flight, April 15 on Discovery Channel" (Press release). Discovery Channel Canada. 30 March 2007. 
  14. ^ "Never Take a Safe Landing For Granted Again – Discovery Channel Presents Season 7 of MAYDAY and DAILY PLANET's "Flying Things Week" in November" (Press release). Discovery Channel Canada. 15 October 2009. 
  15. ^ a b "Air Emergency - Episode Guide". Retrieved 2014-02-06. 
  16. ^ "Buckled In and Cabin Baggage Safely Stowed, MAYDAY returns to Discovery Channel for a 9th Season, Sept. 8" (Press release). Discovery Channel Canada. 13 August 2010. 
  17. ^ "Air Crash Investigation TV Listing (UK)". National Geographic Channel. Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  18. ^ "Air Crash Investigations - Season 11". JB Hi-Fi. 
  19. ^ "Air Crash Investigations - Season 12". JB Hi-Fi. 
  20. ^ "Air Crash Investigation: SERIES 13 EPISODES". National Geographic Television. 
  21. ^ Best Picture Editing in a Documentary Program or Series, Gemini Award, 2010 
  22. ^ 24th: Full list of nominations and winners, Gemini Award, 2009, p. 6 
  23. ^ "Awards". Canadian Society of Cinematographers. Retrieved 15 October 2010. 
  24. ^ Lewis, Raymond (December 2009). "Air Crash Investigators — comments on a pedagogical strategy to increase intrinsic motivation in order to enhance student learning.". 

External links[edit]