A dramatic non-fiction series, Air Crash Investigations (known also as MAYDAY) investigates recent high-profile air disasters to uncover how and why they happened. Air Crash Investigations takes viewers on board six different flights in trouble, recreating the tension and the pressure in the cockpit and cabin. These expertly crafted dramatic reenactments are based on transcripts from recovered flight data recorders. News footage, interviews with pilots, analysts and key witnesses and computer graphics of the planes in flight all shed light on the safety issues at the heart of aviation industry controversies.
Air Crash Investigations follows survivors, family members of crash victims and transportation safety investigators as they piece together the evidence of the causes of major accidents. Each episode of Air Crash Investigations provides a compelling, in-depth look at one particular aspect of air safety such as pilot error, fire in flight, poor maintenance, or “hurry up syndrome” – a dangerous condition born of the time pressures inherent in modern commercial aviation.
Air Crash Investigations highlights the latest developments in computerized flight technology. It also examines the debate these advances bring forward. Recent incidents are compared to previous accidents to show how the industry learns – or doesn’t – from its serious mistakes.
Galaxie Productions/Cineflix/Media Productions Services Ltd./Near-Miss Productions in association with Discovery Channel Canda,National Geographic Channel International,France 5,Channel 5,Canal D
Part 1: Unlocking Disaster
Just out of Honolulu the cargo door of United Airlines Flight 811 opens at an altitude of 33,000 feet, ripping a huge hole in the 747 taking out five rows of seats –and nine passengers– with it. With their plane torn wide open and no options left, the crew attempts a last ditch landing back in Honolulu. This episode investigates how delays in fixing known design faults can have tragic consequences.
Part 2: Racing the Storm
On June 1st, 1999, at the height of thunderstorm season in Arkansas, American Airlines Flight 1420 ends in disaster. As an American Airlines jet prepares to land amidst a violent storm, its crew’s worst fears were realized. The MD80 ploughs off a wet runway down an embankment and breaks apart, killing 11 people. This episode investigates the crash of Flight 1420 to Little Rock, could the pilots have made the bad decision to fly into the eye of a storm in the face of severe crosswinds?
Part 3: Fire on Board
In 1998, off Canada’s east coast, the pilot of Swissair Flight 111 smells smoke in the cockpit less than an hour after take-off. It’s a race against time to dump fuel and land. Minutes later fire and complete electrical failure cause the MD11 to crash into St. Margarets Bay near Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia with the loss of all aboard. Now, after one of the largest investigations in aviation history, the story can finally be told.
Part 4: Flying Blind
October 1996. AeroPeru flight 603 crashed on a routine flight from Lima to Santiago, due to a severe failure with the flight instruments. As Aeroperu Flight 603 took off, it’s airspeed and altitude indicators jammed, leaving the flight crew heading for disaster. Join investigators as they examine what caused this tragic computer malfunction.
Part 5: Cutting Corners
In January 2000, an Air Alaska jet with 88 passengers and crew suffered a catastrophic failure that tore it from the sky. Shortly after Air Alaska Flight 261 takes off from Puerta Vallarta the stabilizer – which controls the angle of the plane in flight – malfunctions. The pilots struggle to control the plane but it nose dives into the ocean with no survivors. Join investigators as they discover how maintenance errors can lead to fatal crashes.
Part 6: Flying on Empty
On the night of August 24, 2001 an Air Transat Airbus runs out of fuel over the Atlantic and has to glide to a power-free landing. During a flight from Toronto, Canada to Lisbon, Portugal, Air Transat flight 236 runs critically low on fuel. Calculations show that they will crash long before reaching Portugal. Captain Robert Piche and First Officer Dirk DeJager divert to Lajes Air Base, Terceira Island in the Azores. All 306 souls survived, but what caused the fuel leak?