Cause of small plane’s emergency landing at Fulton County Airport revealed

JOHNSTOWN — A small plane’s forced emergency landing March 2 at the Fulton County Airport was caused by “electrical and mechanical” issues with the aircraft, a preliminary investigation by the National Traffic Safety Board revealed.

Findings were made public this week about the emergency landing that left pilot Sergey Goncharov, 30, of Burlington, Vt., uninjured.

“They confirmed what we initially said,” Fulton County Richard Giardino said Friday of the NTSB.

He said there were electrical and mechanical issues with the small-single engine Cessna that made an emergency landing at the Fulton County Airport on Route 67 after his aircraft filled up with smoke March 2.

Goncharov was the sole occupant of the plane.

According to the tail number of the plane, which was N4629K, it is a Cessna fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft whose reciprocating engine was manufactured by Continental Motor on April 5, 1979. It was legally being flown. The registered owner is Beta Air LLC of South Burlington, Vt.

Goncharov is listed on the Beta Air website as being a certified flight instructor, certified flight instructor instrument as well as an airframe and powerplant mechanic.

According to the Beta Air website, he has a background in aircraft engine manufacturing and holds multiple roles as a process engineer, assembly and test technician.

The emergency landing of the airplane occurred just after 8 a.m. in the town of Johnstown. Minutes earlier, the pilot knew he was in trouble.

“He was diverted to our airport because his cabin was full of smoke,” Giardino said.

The sheriff said the pilot first encountered the smokey situation about 8,000 feet up. He said the pilot opened a window but still couldn’t see, including a view of his instrument panel.

According to a news release issued by the sheriff’s office at the time, the NTSB initially indicated mechanical and electrical issues downed the aircraft. Officials said the pilot followed all appropriate protocols.

When the cabin filled with smoke, Goncharov was diverted to the Fulton County Airport. Upon landing, it appears there was an additional failure with the landing gear, according to preliminary data.

By Paul Wager