In the 20th century Bristol's manufacturing activities broadened to include aircraft construction, which has produced many famous aeroplanes.

In 1910 the aircraft manufacturer British and Colonial Aeroplane Company was founded at Filton. This Company first made its name with the World War I Bristol Fighter, before becoming Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1920.

At this time, the Company bought the failing Cosmos Engineering Company to form its new aero-engine division, the Bristol Engine Company, at Patchway.

By the Second World War the Filton works were the largest single aircraft manufacturing unit in the world, and during this conflict the Bristol Aeroplane Company further enhanced its reputation with the Blenheim and Beaufighter aircraft. In the 1950s the company also became one of England's major civil aircraft manufacturers, producing the Bristol Freighter, the Britannia and the Brabazon airliner.

In 1956 the Bristol Aeroplane Company's major operations were split into two main divisions - Bristol Aero Engines (the renamed Bristol Engine Company) and Bristol Aircraft.

In 1958 Bristol Aero Engines merged with Armstrong Siddeley to form Bristol Siddeley, which in 1966 was purchased by Rolls-Royce. This has remained Britain's only major aero-engine company ever since, and continues to develop and market Bristol-designed engines.

In 1960 Bristol Aircraft merged with three other aircraft manufacturers to form the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC), which played a key role in the Anglo-French Concorde supersonic airliner project. Filton was one of two assembly plants (the other being in Toulouse) where the first two Concorde prototypes were simultaneously built. The French manufactured the centre fuselage and centre wing, while the British made the nose, rear fuselage, fin and wingtips. The engine's manufacture was split between Rolls-Royce (Filton) and SNECMA (Paris).

Concorde 002, the first British-built model, made its maiden flight from Filton on 9 April 1969, and on 26 November 2003, Concorde 216, the last ever Concorde flight, landed at Filton airfield. The latter remains here as the centrepiece of a proposed air museum, which will show the existing Bristol Aero Collection, including a Bristol Britannia aircraft.

BAC went on to become a founding component of the nationalised British Aerospace (BAe). In 1999 this became part of the now-privatised BAE Systems, who still operate from Filton.