Transport Canada still investigating lift axles

OTTAWA – Transport Canada has still not reached any conclusions about RCMP trailer tests that could reveal design flaws on certain lift axle systems.

Transport Canada spokeswoman Mélanie Quesnel confirms that the federal agency continues to review the test results as part of a fact-finding exercise, but further study is required to determine if a problem does exist.

Last month, tests conducted by an RCMP forensic collision reconstructionist in Alberta apparently found that some lift axle air suspensions can cause tractor-trailers nearly twice as long to stop in certain conditions.

The tests show that certain lift axle system disproportionately transfer weight among axles when air is depleted from the suspension on fully loaded trailers, overstressing both axles and tires, which could reduce braking efficiency.

The upcoming December issue of Today’s Trucking has more details, but an official comment by Transport Canada wasn’t received by press time.

More recently, Quesnel did email to say that the investigation is ongoing.

Today’s Trucking did learn that Transport Canada broached the topic with members of the Canadian Transportation Equipment Association (CTEA) in a closed-door meeting at the group’s annual conference last month.

Quesnel said that officials did sit down with members of the trailer parts and manufacturing industry to "learn more about the air suspension failure event that was investigated by the RCMP."

"The issue is with air suspension trailers fitted with liftable axles and the stopping performance of the different designs in the event of an air suspension failure," says Quesnel. "Further study will be required to answer questions such as ‘what is the occurrence of air suspension failures’ and ‘how do the different suspension designs perform during an air loss situation?’"

Don Moore, executive director of the CTEA, told us that he couldn’t provide details of the meeting, but confirmed that it took place with trailer stakeholders and suppliers to "exchange information" and that the CTEA is cooperating with Transport Canada.

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