WASHINGTON - New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and his flight instructor did not realize their misjudgment of a U-turn until it was too late to avoid their fatal New York City plane crash, investigators said yesterday.

They had several options in how they handled that maneuver, the probe found.

In presenting their findings, National Transportation Safety Board members said they still didn't know whether Lidle or his flight instructor Tyler Stanger was piloting the plane in the Oct. 11, 2006, crash.

Both were killed when the Cirrus SR-20, owned by Lidle, slammed into a high-rise apartment building. The NTSB declared yesterday that the cause was "inadequate judgment, planning and airmanship" by Lidle and Stanger.

The Lidle and Stanger families are suing the plane's manufacturer. *