Automating the Aerospace Industry: Can We Say Goodbye to Manual Riveting?

Airbus S.A.S enters multiyear agreement with MTM Robotics.

The Mini Flextrack from MTM Robotics. (Source:

The Mini Flextrack from MTM Robotics. (Source:

Airbus S.A.S may be upping its automation game, yet again.

MTM Robotics announced it will be providing automated manufacturing equipment and machines to the aerospace giant for use on existing aircraft production lines within Airbus Group companies in line with a multiyear agreement.

MTM designs and manufactures automated drilling, fastening and inspection machines, as well as robot end-effectors for aerospace applications.

Airbus itself has not released any additional information about the nature of the agreement, or exactly how long it is slated to last, but we can take a closer look at MTM to see what they are bringing to the table.

The Benefits of Small-Footprint Automation

For a long time, aerospace mechanics had to perform tasks like riveting by hand – a hard and exhausting process. Thankfully, the aerospace industry has been learning from the manufacturers’ playbook and looking to solutions in automation.

In the video below, we learn how applications like riveting are effectively becoming automated.

Smaller-footprint technology brings with it new efficiencies for the right industries within manufacturing.  Collaborative robots, for example, offer a smaller and less physically threatening alternative to conventional robotics.

The smaller size and portability of MTM’s machine designs are intended to offset efficiency bottlenecks and worker-safety concerns often associated with large, floor-mounted equipment.

Take, for example, MTM’s flagship product, the Mini Flextrack (MFT). The MFT has been used in the development of the Boeing 777 fuselage, Boeing 787 horizontal stabilizer, Boeing 747 fuselage and Lockheed C130J wings.

The MFT uses a single vacuum track for easier loading and cost reduction and is configurable to various lengths. Integrated vacuum sensors are monitored by a machine controller.

The MFT also features an onboard controller, internal storage for datasets, full Ethernet and USB data connections and a touchscreen pendant.

To learn more about MTM Robotics and the MFT’s design, visit To learn more about how Airbus is automating its factories, visit