SAN FRANCISCO—An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 that crashed at San Francisco International Airport was travelling “significantly below” its intended operating altitude according to experts at the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

“While we’re obviously still in shock over what has happened, there is some solace in receiving all this valuable insight from the many experts involved,” said a family member of one of the three victims.

The NTSB’s startling finding comes after careful analysis of Flight 214’s cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, which indicated no trouble until four seconds before impact, when the plane was rapidly approached by some “tarmac”, swerved to avoid it, and unexpectedly made contact with soil near a “runway”.*

“It’s all there in the Boeing Operator’s Manual. Engines on, pointy end forward, stay away from the ground,” said NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman at a press conference. “These were experienced pilots so we can only assume that they never bothered to read it. I know I’ve never creased the spine of my Toyota Camry book. I just figure ‘Hey, I know what I’m doing.'”

Representatives from the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), upset that the accident was being prematurely blamed on pilot error, deluged Ms. Hersman with a swarm of paper airplanes in protest.

The NTSB announcement comes on the heels of results late last week when aeronautics experts ruled out mechanical failure as a possible cause.

“The fuselage looked very clean and shiny and the engines made a healthy whooshing noise when we powered them up,” said Investigator Clement Tomkpins. “One of them actually hurtled down the runway before we could shut it off.”

Asiana Airlines management were relieved at the news.

“If what we’re hearing is true, we have a solid case to push this away from a systemic negligence lawsuit and into limited liability human error,” said the Airline’s president, who declined to give his name. “Given the engineering report I just read, I think we could probably re-attach one of the engines to another plane and make some good come from this terrible tragedy.”

Investigation continues in preparation for the formal report.

* An earlier version of this story suggested that the plane actually made contact with a “runway”. We apologize for the error.

By Sebastian Panache

Editor-in-Chief. Follow him on Twitter @SebPanache. Or don’t. It’s okay, really.

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