MAYDAY calls take priority over every other call on the radio and should be used when someone is in grave an imminent danger.

Examples of when to use MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY, irrespective of whether you should be in these situations or not:

  • When flight conditions change to less than VMC
  • When you are forced to make an emergency landing
  • If you run out of daylight
  • If you get caught on top of cloud
  • If you fly from VMC into IMC
  • If you got caught in a valley with no aerodrome due to cloud
  • Engine failure
  • Airframe partial failure

Your MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY call would go something like this:


Brisbane Center or Melbourne  Center  (depending where you are)

Foxbat 1234

Engine failure

Forced Landing

4 miles SW of Port Macquarie 2500 on descent

2 POB, dirt road near quarry, mobile phone 0424 ### 777

ELT activated


When you hear a MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY call

  • Maintain radio silence
  • Make notes of callsign and any details, especially location
  • If someone is ignoring radio silence they may not have heard, and a pilot can impose radio silence by saying “Stop transmitting – Mayday”
  • or ATC may say “All Stations – stop transmitting – Mayday”
  • Ground station may ask all other aircraft to change to a new frequency
  • If ground station does not respond an aircraft should relay the message to Brisbane or Melbourne Center