WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Allan McArtor, who heads Airbus <AIR.PA> U.S. commercial operations, will take over as chairman and chief executive of the overall U.S. unit of the European weapons and planemaker on March 1, replacing Sean O'Keefe, the company said Tuesday.

Airbus said O'Keefe, who turns 58 later this month, is resigning to focus on his continuing recovery after 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, had another operation on his back in recent weeks. He will remain on special assignment with the company.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)