Thousands of buses, motorcoaches recalled for escape hatch defects

Two faulty parts have caused a series of safety recalls affecting a portion of about 7,500 buses, motorcoaches and recreation vehicles equipped with escape hatches manufactured by Specialty Manufacturing Co. of Charlotte, N.C.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the 13 recalls for failures to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Specialty Manufacturing is a subsidiary of Safe Fleet in Belton, Mo.

Glass roof hatch panels

NHTSA has issued five recalls affecting up to 776 buses and motorcoaches carrying escape hatches with an optional tempered glass panel, the Transpec T287X Series.

According to one of the recalls, “The optional tempered glass panel in the rooftop emergency escape hatch may shatter if subjected to extreme cold temperature conditions due to microfractures forming at the unfinished surface edge of the glazing material. If the roof hatch tempered glazing shatters, glass particles could fall down onto bus passengers, creating a potential for injury.

“Based on information provided by Transpec, failures result from hot/cold stress and vibration/shock affecting edge defects (chips) in the glass panels. Resulting stress concentration at the chips can result in fracture and failure of the tempered glass if edge damage is present.”

The notice states that Specialty Manufacturing will supply replacement hatch lids and reimburse owners $25 for labor.

Listed in the hatch panel recalls are:

  • New Flyer of America, 2018 XDE60 hybrid electric heavy-duty urban transit buses; 2019 XE60 hybrid electric heavy-duty urban transit buses; XD40 diesel heavy-duty urban transit buses; and XN40 CNG/LPG heavy-duty urban transit buses, 100 percent of 172 buses
  • Motor Coach Industries (MCI), 2019 J3500, 2019 D4505 and 2018-2019 J4500, estimated 10 percent of 75 motorcoaches
  • Gillig, 2018-2019 low-floor buses, 100 percent of 25 buses
  • Proterra, 2018-2019 Catalyst, estimated 10 percent of 14 buses
  • BYD, 2019 C8M, estimated 20 percent of 6 buses

Hatch handles

A series of eight recalls addressed external handles on Prolo roof hatches manufactured by Specialty Manufacturing. Most of the recalls will affect an estimated 20 percent of 6,838 buses that may carry defective handles.

According to the recall notices, the “release handle can fail under normal operating loads. Certain production lots of the cast handles were found to contain a higher than specified level of porosity. The increased level of porosity is a result of inconsistencies in the casting process. The excess porosity can create failure points in the handle stem leading to breakage under normal operational loads. Failure of the external release handle will prevent the hatch release mechanism from being actuated from the outside of the bus.

“The increased level of porosity is a result of inconsistencies in the casting process. The casting mold temperature was cooler than the required temperature in one section of the mold. This caused the injected zinc to cool too rapidly, which created voids in the stem of the cast handle.

“A failure of external release of the handle could potentially delay the evacuation of the vehicle during an emergency, increasing the risk to an injury.”

Specialty Manufacturing will provide replacement handles and $25 reimbursement for each repair.

Listed in the handle recalls, believed to affect 20 percent of most fleets involved, are:

  • Blue Bird Body Company, 2020 Vision and All-American non-school buses, 13
  • Blue Bird Body Company, 2020 Vision and All-American school buses, 1,667
  • Daimler Trucks/Thomas Built, 2019-2020 Minotour, Saf-T Liner C2 and Saf-T Liner HDX buses, 11
  • Daimler Trucks/Thomas Built, 2019-2020 Minotour, Saf-T Liner C2 and Saf-T Liner EFX school buses, 2,081
  • Champion Bus, 2019 Champion, Goshen Challenger, Crusader, Defender, G-Force, Impulse, LF Transport and Pacer buses, 362
  • Navistar, 2019-2020 IC Bus RE and IC Bus CE, 2,677
  • Navistar, 2019-2020 IC Bus CE and IC Bus RE, 27
  • Forest River, various 2011-2018 buses and recreation vehicles, 100 percent of 484


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