Mayday: “Desperate Escape”
Sun., April 15 at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT
On August 2, 2005, during a raging thunderstorm, Air France 358 makes a very difficult landing and skids off the runway in Toronto. As it crashes, the left engine catches fire. With only seconds to escape, only half of the emergency exits open and just two of the slides deployed, more than 300 passengers and crew frantically fight through flames and thickening smoke. In less than three minutes, the plane is completely engulfed by fire.
Barefoot and without luggage, survivors emerge by the side of Toronto’s busiest highway, catching rides back to the airport from bewildered commuters. Miraculously, all on board survived the crash.
The investigation reveals that weather wasn’t the only - or even most important - cause of the accident. Co-pilot inexperience may have contributed significantly. Last year, there were eight other runway over runs around the world that killed more than 100 people. This episode looks at the new technologies airlines and airports could employ to significantly decrease that death toll.
Mayday: “Fire Fight”
Sun., April 15 at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT
In June of 1983, a small mechanical problem in the back of an Air Canada DC-9 quickly turned into an all-out emergency 10 kilometers in the air. Air Canada Flight 797 was travelling to Toronto from Dallas when passengers noticed smoke coming from the rear washroom. As the smoke grows thicker, the crew is forced to make an unscheduled landing. For 15 hellish minutes, passengers and crew struggle to deal with the thick toxic smoke.
When the plane hits the runway in Cincinnati, all on board struggle to exit the burning aircraft immediately.
Only 90 seconds after touching the ground, the plane is engulfed in a ball of fire, killing 23 of the 46 aboard the plane. The pilot is the last to make it out alive. It takes emergency workers hours to control the blaze.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are on the scene within an hour. They uncover a long history of problems with this DC-9, including a previous explosive decompression that may have damaged vital wiring. While the cause of the fire is never definitively identified, in the wake of the Flight 797 tragedy, the NTSB recommended comprehensive changes that make flying safer today, including better crew training and improved emergency exits to allow faster passenger escape.