On 10 January 2012, a Dornier Werke GMBH 328-100 aircraft, registered VH-PPJ, landed at Horn Island Airport, Queensland, after having departed Cairns, Queensland to conduct a search and rescue operation with two flight crew and three technical crew onboard.
The aircraft touched down on the runway normally, at about 48 kts, the pilot flying released the power levers from the reverse thrust position, the right propeller moved to a ground idle position but the left propeller remained in the reverse thrust position and the aircraft veered off the side of the runway.
The FO attempted to correct the deviation through rudder input; however, despite full right rudder, the aircraft continued to diverge left. At the same time, the nose-wheel weight-on-wheels sensor showed the nose wheel alternating between ground and air modes, resulting in the nose-wheel steering not being operational.
A subsequent engineering inspection found that the left power lever appeared not to spring as far forward as the right power lever when released from reverse thrust. The levers and shaft assembly were inspected and found to be serviceable. A lubrication of the springs in the reverse thrust system was carried out.
The operator reported that the thrust levers required positive handling to move from the reverse thrust to the ground idle position, rather than relying on the spring tension. The first officer did not recall receiving specific instruction on operating the power levers.
The operator advised the ATSB that it had conducted the following safety action: All crew have been alerted to potential difficulties with the operation of power levers; an external advisor has been recruited to review the safety system and check and training program; the organisation is assessing the ongoing introduction of simulator training.