An Omaha police helicopter piloted by two officers lost engine power, causing the pilots to make an emergency landing in a field last week, a federal agency says.

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board outlined the problems on board that day but didn’t conclude how or why those problems occurred. No agency investigators traveled to the scene of the emergency landing.

The helicopter, known as Able-1, landed in a field shortly after taking off about 7:30 a.m. April 16 from the North Omaha Airport at 11901 N. 72nd St. The pilots, Officers Dustin Hill and Matthew Baughman, were headed to the second day of annual training in Blair, but the flight itself was not a training exercise.

According to the federal safety agency’s report, the pilots heard a horn, then noticed that the rotor’s revolutions per minute were low and saw an indicator that there was a loss of engine power. The primary flying pilot, in the right seat, started autorotation, which is a flight state using aerodynamic forces, not engine power.

The pilots decided that the field northwest of the airport was the best location for an emergency landing, the report said.

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When the helicopter landed, the front landing legs dug into the ground, rocking the helicopter forward and then backward, which “caused the main rotor blades to contact the tail boom,” the report said.

The aircraft came to rest upright, with the tail boom broken. Neither of the pilots was injured.

The sky that day was clear, with visibility of 10 miles and winds of 12.5 mph, according to the report.

The Omaha Police Department’s air support unit still has two other operational helicopters, but officials hope to secure a third. Police Lt. Sherie Thomas, a police spokeswoman, said officials haven’t determined whether the helicopter can be fixed or how much the repairs would cost.

“We will explore all avenues of getting a third helicopter operational; however, it will take several months to accomplish this task,” Thomas wrote in an email.

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Alia Conley covers breaking news, crime, crime trends, the Omaha Police Department and initial court hearings. Follow her on Twitter @aliavalentine. Phone: 402-444-1068.

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