On the evening of 22 February 2013, the crew of a Regional Express Saab 340B aircraft, registered VH-ZRL, were conducting a scheduled passenger service from Sydney to Taree, New South Wales.
During the approach to Taree, the crew monitored the weather conditions, with the crosswind initially observed as 50 kt when at about 6,000 ft, although it decreased as the aircraft descended.
At about 700 800 ft above ground level (AGL), the crew became visual with the runway. The crew assessed the approach and determined that it was suitable for landing. At that time, the crew reported that the wind was fluctuating and light rain was experienced.
At about 1904, the aircraft touched down. Immediately after, the crew reported that the aircraft was subjected to a wind gust, which caused the left wing to lift slightly and the aircraft to weathercock to the left, into wind. Reverse thrust had been selected after touchdown.
The aircraft veered left toward the runway edge and the captain assumed control of the aircraft. He applied right rudder, but the aircraft did not respond. As the aircraft’s airspeed decreased, the captain also applied right brake, with no effect. He then simultaneously commenced nose wheel steering using the tiller. As the captain believed that the nose wheel steering was ineffective, he elected to apply asymmetric thrust by reducing the amount of reverse thrust on the left engine and increasing reverse thrust on the right engine. The aircraft commenced moving to the right. The aircraft slowed and was taxied to the parking area.
After shutdown, using a torch, the FO then conducted a post flight inspection, with nil damage found.
The next day, the aircraft returned to Sydney, at which time maintenance personnel conducted an inspection of the aircraft and observed damage to the left propeller blades. All four blades had sustained stone damage predominantly on the back (reverse) of the blades.
Weather can behave in an unpredictable manner, particularly when unfavourable conditions exist. While this incident highlights the adverse effects weather can have on aircraft operations, it also emphasises the impact of complacency and interruptions/distractions.