Police helicopter makes emergency landing

A Las Vegas police helicopter with two crew members on board made an emergency landing near Spring Mountain and Lindell roads this afternoon after the engine failed, a police lieutenant at the scene said.

“They’re shook up but they’re physically OK,” said Lt. Joe Ojeda, commander of the police department’s air support section for search and rescue operations.

Ojeda said the pilot and the observer pilot saw an engine failure light come on, which means they had 13 seconds to safely land the helicopter, an McDonnell Douglas 530FF.

“They did what we call an auto-rotation to the ground, an emergency landing and it landed here on the street,” he said.

“You have to be very good and very lucky” to avoid colliding with vehicles on the road, Ojeda said. Mechanics arrived to fix the problem and the helicopter lifted off again at 4 p.m. without incident.

Police spokesman officer Bill Cassell said the department’s helicopter was on routine patrol at 2:30 p.m. when it made a safe landing at the intersection of Solvang Drive and Lindell Road.

“It did not crash,” he said.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said the pilot radioed an air traffic controller in the tower at McCarran International Airport that “he had a problem and was going to set it down.”

“We were aware of the situation,” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

Unless asked to do so, the FAA doesn’t investigate accidents involving public use aircraft. Helicopters, Gregor noted, are not subject to the same altitude restrictions as fixed-wing planes and can fly at lower altitudes as long as they don’t pose hazards to people and objects on the ground.

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308.