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Plane crash survivor O'Keefe back at work at EADS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two and a half months after surviving a small plane crash that killed five people, Sean O'Keefe returned to work on Monday as the chief executive of the U.S. unit of European aerospace company EADS.

O'Keefe, still sporting a neck brace and protective cast on his foot, said in a Web posting that he was at "75 percent strength," but eager to get back to work.

O'Keefe, 54, a former NASA administrator and former Navy secretary, and his son, Kevin, 19, were among four people who survived a plane crash on August 9 near Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska that killed former Senator Ted Stevens and four others.

"Still several hurdles to overcome, braces and casts to jettison, and weeks, if not months of therapy yet to accomplish," O'Keefe said on the website. "But getting back to work will surely help speed that process along!"

More than 100 EADS employees were on hand to greet O'Keefe on his first day back, said company spokesman Guy Hicks.

The U.S. Air Force expects to pick either EADS or Boeing Co this fall to build 179 new refueling planes for the U.S. military, a hotly contested contract worth up to $50 billion.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Gary Hill, Phil Berlowitz)