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Boeing breaks ground on new maintenance facility at Cecil Airport (Courtesy of the Jacksonville Business Journal) — An empty field that is guarded by pine trees on Jacksonville’s westside will be transformed into a digital maintenance and repair facility on par with anything Boeing has established across the world.

Boeing and other stakeholders recently gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony for a 370,000-square-foot maintenance facility at Cecil Airport that will allow the company to hire as many as 400 people in the next 27 months.

The facility is expected to be completed in 2023. It will have 270,000 square feet of hangar space and another 100,000 feet of office space. The facility will be Boeing’s first digitally enabled maintenance repair and overhaul site.

Boeing claims having the capability to digitally diagnose what is awry with an airplane before it arrives in Jacksonville through data insights will make its operations here more efficient.

Warren Helm, the site director for Boeing’s operations in Jacksonville, said there is a direct correlation between the success and what will be achieved following Wednesday’s groundbreaking.

“Our commitment to the customer, in the form of enhanced digital capabilities and streamlined working facilities for our teammates will never be more valuable,” Helm said.

His remarks were interrupted by a jet taking off from the north runway at Cecil Airport, a sound he and others relished. Throughout the picture-perfect morning at Cecil, operations continued at the airport and spaceport.

Lt. Governor Jeanette Núñez said Florida’s commitment to $446 billion commercial space economy is not relegated to Brevard County. She cited Wednesday’s groundbreaking as another event that will help Cecil Spaceport develop its capabilities as a spaceport and encourage additional private sector investment in commercial space in this region.

Cecil Spaceport has yet to conduct its first test launch. But Jacksonville Aviation Authority president Mark VanLoh said Boeing’s expansion here will open opportunities for other companies to fill the space Boeing is vacating on the western end of Cecil Airport and Spaceport.

The Boeing facility will be the first development on the eastern portion of JAA’s Cecil Airport and Spaceport. Boeing currently occupies six facilities on the west side of the airfield totaling 394,000 square feet.

“There are so many companies and suppliers out there that want to be near Boeing,” VanLoh said. “We’ve got room. We have plenty of room. And they will be coming. Ten years from now, you won’t recognize this airfield.”