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Some 20 minutes into the flight, the airplane lost engine number two.
The FAA described it as "uncontained engine failure," during which pieces of metal came out of the engine.
The flight was diverted to Kennedy Airport about 12 miles away, where it landed safely at 8:36 a.m.
Investigators later found about four dozen pieces of metal that had crashed onto a rooftop near the airport.
When the aircraft was inspected, pieces of metal were found embedded in the fuselage - the shattered blades of the Pratt & Whitney turbofan engine that apparently disintegrated.
Police and aviation investigators photographed the debris that landed on a roof in the College Point neighborhood.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said the crew reported hearing a loud noise just after takeoff, a result of engine failure on the right side of the McDonnell Douglas 83 - a newer model of the MD80 series. The plane had 88 passengers and five crew members.
The bulk of the engine remained attached to the plane fuselage, Peters said.
There was no immediate indication that the engine failed because of a bird strike, which caused a US Airways plane to make a crash landing in the Hudson River in January.
On Jan. 15, Flight 1549 ditched into the Hudson after it hit a flock of Canada geese shortly after taking off from LaGuardia. All 155 people aboard that aircraft survived.
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