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Mayday premieres on Discovery, Wednesday, September 3 at 10 p.m.

August 14, 2003

Montreal – August 14, 2003 - A dramatic new non-fiction series, Mayday starts Wednesday, September 3 at 10 p.m. ET on Discovery, repeating at 10 p.m. on Sunday. Mayday investigates recent high-profile air disasters to uncover how and why they happened. Each of the six one-hour episodes takes viewers on board six different flights, 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. Interviews with pilots, analysts and key witnesses and computer graphics of the planes in flight also shed light on the safety issues at the heart of aviation industry controversies.

Mayday 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 Mayday 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. Mayday 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.

The first episode Racing the Storm profiles American Airlines Flight 1420, which lands in Little Rock, Arkansas at the height of thunderstorm season. The MD80 ploughs off a wet runway, down an embankment and breaks apart, killing 11 people. Mayday delves into the time pressures and misjudgment that lead to this accident.

Subsequent Mayday flights are:

Unlocking Disaster (premiering September 10 at 10 p.m. ET) an investigation of the 1989 United Airlines incident in Hawaii. Just out of Honolulu the cargo door of 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. Mayday investigates how delays in fixing known design faults can have tragic consequences.

Flying Blind (September 17 at 10 p.m. ET) As Aeroperu Flight 603 takes off from Lima at night its airspeed and altitude indicators jam. The flight crew is flying blind and heading for disaster. The Air Traffic Control tower is getting false readings from the plane’s jammed computer. The 757 crashes into the Pacific, killing all 70 on board. Mayday traces the cause of the computer malfunction and charts its tragic consequences.

Flying on Empty – (October 8 at 10 p.m. ET) An Air Transat Airbus runs out of fuel over the Atlantic and has to glide to a power-free landing. Mayday explores the causes that contributed to this near catastrophe and shows how the crew managed to glide to a safe landing.

Cutting Corners – (October 15 at 10 p.m. ET) 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 nose-diving plane but it rolls and dives into the ocean. The eighty-eight passengers and crew on board die. Mayday tells the story of how maintenance errors can lead to fatal crashes.

Fire on Board – (October 22 at 10 p.m. ET) 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 the Atlantic killing all 229 passengers and crew on board. Mayday searches for the cause of the fire and asks why it spread so destructively so quickly.

André Barro is the Cineflix executive producer for Mayday, Bernard Vaillot is executive producer for Galaxie Presse. The series producer is Bryn Higgins. The directors are Bryn Higgins, Leo Singer, Gary Lang, Greg Lanning and Bernard Vaillot. Mayday is produced by Cineflix in association with Discovery Canada and Canal D in Canada; Channel 5 Broadcasting Limited in the UK; France 5 and Galaxie Presse Productions in France. Produced with the participation of the Government of Canada film or video production tax credit program; and the Quebec Film and Television tax credit administered by SODEC.

Cineflix is a leading producer and distributor of popular non-fiction programming with offices in Montreal, Toronto, London and Dublin. Building on a strong foundation in fiction filmmaking and acclaimed one-hour and feature-length documentaries, Cineflix produces over 50 hours a year of factual entertainment with strong international appeal.

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