O'Keefe, who turns 58 later this month, told Reuters he is resigning
to focus on "a more aggressive rehabilitation regime" after he
survived a 2010 plane crash in Alaska that killed five people,
including former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens.
O'Keefe, a former Navy Secretary, NASA administrator and Pentagon
comptroller, said he made the decision with "great reluctance" after
doctors told him that he needed six to eight weeks to recuperate
from a recent back surgery, followed by several days a week of
intense physical therapy.
He will remain on special assignment with the company to oversee
changes in the company's special security agreement with the
Pentagon after a corporate restructuring.
McArtor, a decorated Vietnam war combat pilot who later flew with
the Air Force's Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team, has headed
Airbus' commercial operations in the United States since 2001. He
also served as head of the Federal Aviation Administration from 1987
to 1989 and held senior roles at Federal Express from 1979 to 1994.
At Airbus, McArtor played a key role in the company's ultimately
unsuccessful bid to land a multibillion U.S. Air Force refueling
plane contract, and later, in establishing an assembly line for the
Airbus A320 in Alabama.
Airbus Group Chief Executive Tom Enders said McArtor had been a key
member of the Airbus Americas senior leadership team for 13 years,
leading the unit through a period of significant growth and
"With his aviation-rich biography, Allan will give us tremendous
lift and thrust in the U.S.," Enders said, adding that McArtor's
previous government and private sector experience would be an
invaluable asset to the Airbus Group.
Before joining Airbus, McArtor was founder, chairman and CEO of
Legend Airlines, a regional airline based at Dallas Love Field. He
continues to hold a commercial pilot's license.
O'Keefe was named chief executive of EADS North America in November
2009, adding the responsibilities of chairman of the unit's board in
January 2011. The company was renamed Airbus Group Inc, effective
[to top of second column]
O'Keefe said McArtor's appointment did not signal any retreat from
the company's commitment to expanding its U.S. defense and space
business, although he said Airbus would focus heavily on its
internal reorganization over the coming year.
Enders said O'Keefe made significant contributions during his tenure
as CEO of EADS North America, including "leading the company during
the tanker replacement competition, increasing our reputation with
the U.S. government and expanding our market presence in North
O'Keefe and his son Kevin were among four people who survived the
small plane crash in a remote part of Alaska that killed Stevens and
four other people in August 2010.
O'Keefe returned to work two and a half months after the crash,
still sporting a neck brace and protective cast on his foot. He has
struggled with lingering effects from the serious injuries he
sustained in the accident.
"One of the things I learned three years ago is that every day is a
bonus, and you have an obligation to do your best with it," O'Keefe
told Reuters in a telephone interview. "This is a case where it just
isn't fair to my colleagues and the company ... if I can't every day
do my best at it."
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa;
editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Andrew Hay)
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