Mayday (Canadian TV series)

Mayday, entitled Air Crash Investigation in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom, Asia, and some European countries, and Air Emergency, Air Disasters and Mayday: Air Disaster[1] in the United States, is a Canadian documentary television program examining air crashes, near-crashes, hijackings, bombings, and other disasters. Mayday uses re-enactments and computer-generated imagery to reconstruct the sequence of events leading up to each disaster. In addition, survivors, aviation experts, retired pilots, and crash investigators are interviewed, to explain how the emergencies came about, how they were investigated, and how they might have been prevented.

Mayday Air Disaster original logo.png
Also known as
Created byAndré Barro
Narrated byStephen Bogaert for Canada and U.S.
Bill Ratner for the U.S. (Smithsonian Channel)
Jonathan Aris for Australia, Asia and Europe[notes 1]
David Bamber (Season 1 Narrator for Channel Five in UK only)
Country of originCanada
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons20
No. of episodes180 (list of episodes)
Running time45 minutes
Production company(s)Cineflix Productions
Original networkDiscovery Channel Canada
National Geographic Channel
Original release3 September 2003 (2003-09-03) –
External links
Production website

Cineflix started production on 13 August 2002 (2002-08-13), with a CDN $2.5 million budget. The program premiered on Discovery Channel Canada on 3 September 2003. 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 in 144 countries and 26 languages. The series was received well by critics and nominated for a number of awards. In 2010, Sharon Zupancic won a Gemini Award for her work on the season 9 episode, "Lockerbie Disaster", about the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988. 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."[2]


The series features re-enactments, interviews, eyewitness testimony, computer-generated imagery, and, in nearly all of the episodes, voice actor readings of cockpit voice recorder transcripts to reconstruct the sequence of events for the audience. 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 views 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 personnel leading up to the eventual crash or emergency landing are then recreated. All scenes in the cockpit and air traffic control centres 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 the relatives and friends of the victims) are interviewed, adding further information about the cases as it relates to them personally.[3] 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.[3]

Production and distributionEdit

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.[4] To keep the costs down, most of the production was kept at Cineflix's offices in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[5] While in production, the series was sold to France 5, Discovery Channel and Canal D.[6] On 2 June 2003 (2003-06-02), Cineflix announced that it had sold the series to TVNZ, the Seven Network, and the Holland Media Group.[6] Later that year on October 10 (10-22), a month before the airing of the first season, Cineflix announced that it had secured a major international deal with National Geographic Channel to take Mayday to 144 countries and 26 languages.[7]

In 2011, Smithsonian Networks aired Season 5, renamed to Air Disasters, making it the first time in the United States that Mayday had aired on a channel other than National Geographic. On 25 January 2012, Cineflix Rights announced that it would be selling Seasons 8, 9 and 11 (23 episodes) to Smithsonian Networks.[8] On 28 March 2014, Cineflix Rights announced a deal with Smithsonian Networks to air seasons 3, 4 and 13 (34 episodes).[9]


As of March 2020, a total of 180 episodes of Mayday have been aired, including five Science of Disaster specials and three Crash Scene Investigation spin-offs, which do not examine aircraft crashes. The "series breakdown" page on Cineflix's website lists a 20th season consisting of ten 60-minute episodes scheduled for release in 2019.[10]

Seasons[11]EpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
163 September 2003 (2003-09-03)22 October 2003 (2003-10-22)
2623 January 2005 (2005-01-23)27 February 2005 (2005-02-27)
31314 September 2005 (2005-09-14)7 December 2005 (2005-12-07)
Spin-off2006 (2006)
41015 April 2007 (2007-04-15)17 June 2007 (2007-06-17)
5109 April 2008 (2008-04-09)11 June 2008 (2008-06-11)
6316 December 2007 (2007-12-16)2 March 2008 (2008-03-02)
784 November 2009 (2009-11-04)17 December 2009 (2009-12-17)
8210 June 2009 (2009-06-10)17 June 2009 (2009-06-17)
988 September 2010 (2010-09-08)27 October 2010 (2010-10-27)
10627 February 2011 (2011-02-27)28 March 2011 (2011-03-28)
111312 August 2011 (2011-08-12)13 April 2012 (2012-04-13)
12133 August 2012 (2012-08-03)15 April 2013 (2013-04-15)
131116 December 2013 (2013-12-16)9 May 2014 (2014-05-09)
14115 January 2015 (2015-01-05)2 March 2015 (2015-03-02)
15104 January 2016 (2016-01-04)17 February 2016 (2016-02-17)
16107 June 2016 (2016-06-07)13 February 2017 (2017-02-13)
171020 February 2017 (2017-02-20)3 October 2017 (2017-10-03)
181013 February 2018 (2018-02-13)4 July 2018 (2018-07-04)
19102 January 2019 (2019-01-02)11 March 2019 (2019-03-11)
20109 January 2020 (2020-01-09)[12]12 March 2020 (2020-03-12)


The series has been well received by critics.[3] 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."[3]

The senior lecturer of the University of New South Wales, 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."[2]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Overall, the series has been nominated for nine awards, winning two, both for film editing.

Year Nominated work Recipient(s) Category Result
Canadian Society of Cinematographers
2004 "Flying Blind" Michael Boland Best Cinematography in Docudrama Nominated
2008 "Final Approach" Damir I Chytil Nominated
"Gimli Glider" D. Gregor Hagey Nominated
2009 "Air India: Explosive Evidence" Paul Tolton Nominated
"Fatal Distraction" D. Gregor Hagey Nominated
Gemini Awards
2009 Mayday: Season 5 Simon Lloyd • Larry Bambrick • Katherine Buck • Alex Bystram •
Greg Lanning • Samantha Linton •
Glen Salzman • John Vandervelde
Best General/Human Interest Series Nominated
2010 "Lockerbie Disaster" Sharon Zupancic Best Picture Editing in a Documentary Program or Series Won
Canadian Screen Awards
2014 "Focused on Failure" Brian Eimer • Jessica Moniz •
Josh Vamos • Matt Vandersluys •
Michael Bonini • Nadia Awad
Best Sound in an Information/ Documentary or Lifestyle Program or Series Nominated
2015 "Into the Eye of the Storm" Dan Hawkes Best Picture Editing in a Factual Program or Series Won

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Original Show - Mayday: Air Disaster | The Weather Channel Television Network". Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b Lewis, Raymond (December 2009). "Air Crash Investigators — comments on a pedagogical strategy to increase intrinsic motivation in order to enhance student learning" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 July 2011. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d Tabouring, Franck (23 April 2009). "Mayday — Air Disasters". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on 15 May 2011.
  4. ^ "New Cineflix science series Mayday starts production" (Press release). Cineflix. 13 August 2002.
  5. ^ Luke, Donna (1 January 2003). "No Borders" (Interview). Interviewed by Susan Zeller for Realscreen.
  6. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 27 October 2010.
  7. ^ "Cineflix International strikes NATGEO deal for new popular science series Mayday" (Press release). Cineflix. 22 October 2003. Archived from the original on 27 October 2010.
  8. ^ "Cineflix Rights seals North and Latin American deals" (Press release). Cineflix. 25 January 2012.
  9. ^ "Cineflix Rights seals multiple deals in advance of MIPTV 2014" (Press release). Cineflix. 28 March 2014.
  10. ^ Discovery's Original Canadian Series and Primetime Mainstay, "Mayday", Takes Flight with Season 17; Press Release; Bell Media, retrieved
  11. ^ "Mayday: Air Disaster - Program Overview". Cineflix Rights. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  12. ^ "Air Crash Investigation | National Geographic". Retrieved 13 December 2019.


  1. ^ The UK broadcast of Season 1 was hosted on Channel Five and narrated by David Bamber

External linksEdit