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EADS executive survives Alaska air crash, but former senator killed

EADS North America confirms that chief executive officer Sean O'Keefe survived an aircraft crash late on 9 August in Alaska, the same accident that killed former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens.

O'Keefe and his son, Kevin, are among four survivors of the DeHavilland DHC-3T Otter that crashed in a remote area near Dillingham in southwest Alaska.

Five others on board the aircraft were killed, including the 86-year-old Stevens.

Aerospace Industries Association, a Washington DC-based advocacy group, released a statement praising Stevens for "improving aviation safety throughout his beloved state" and championing the core technologies for the next generation air transportation system.

EADS, meanwhile, issued a statement echoing the AIA's "deepest sympathy to the families of those less fortunate in this terrible accident". The company adds: "We owe a debt of gratitude for the heroic efforts of the members of the rescue crew and others who rushed to the scene. We look forward to Sean's full recovery and his rapid return to EADS North America."

O'Keefe's business unit is in the midst of a tough competition with Boeing for a US Air Force tanker contract worth about $35 billion.

O'Keefe is the former NASA Adminstrator, Secretary of the Navy and chancellor of the Louisiana State University, among other high-level public and private positions. EADS NA hired O'Keefe on 1 November 2009 as CEO, replacing Ralph Crosby, who was elevated to chairman.

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