Aircraft manufacturing in the 21st century sees a future much different to that seen one and two decades before. Manufacturers of both military and commercial aircraft are challenged to become Lean, Agile and Flexible. As progress is slowly made toward introducing advanced assembly systems into production, the overall cost of automation is now more closely scrutinized. After spending tens of millions of dollars on large automated systems with deep foundations, many manufacturers find themselves locked into high cost manufacturing systems that have specific, inflexible configurations.This kind of scenario has caused a shift in the attitude of airframe assemblers, to go back to basics. Lean manufacturing is seen as a way to build aircraft with very low investment in equipment and tools.Today's advanced systems developers do understand the need for more affordable assembly systems. One of the most promising solutions is seen as flexible adaptable robotic systems that utilize metrology, robotics and simulation sub systems, all integrated into an intelligent assembly cell.This presentation will address this type of intelligent, robotic automation for assembly of aircraft components.