Flutter analysis is a major requirement to predict safe flight envelops and to decide on flutter testing conditions of newly designed or modified aircraft structures. In order to achieve reliable flutter analysis of an aircraft structure, it is necessary to obtain a good correlation between its finite element (FE) model and experimental modal data. Currently available model updating methods require construction of a detailed initial FE model in order to achieve convergence of the modes obtained from updated FE model to their experimental counterparts. If the updating procedure is not carried out by the original design team of the aircraft structure but a subsidiary company that makes certain modification on it, construction of an appropriate initial FE model from scratch becomes a tedious task requiring considerable amount of engineering work. To overcome the foregoing problem, this paper presents a new method that aims to derive dynamically equivalent FE model of an aircraft structure directly from its experimental modal data. The application of the method is illustrated with two case studies. In the first case study, the performance of the method is tested with the modal test data of a benchmark structure built to simulate dynamic behavior of an airplane, namely GARTEUR SM-AG 19 test bed, and very satisfactory results are obtained: the first 10 elastic FE modes of the test bed closely correlate with experimental data. In the second case study, the method is applied to the modal test data obtained from ground vibration test (GVT) of a real aircraft. In this application, it is observed that only the first 4 modes of the resultant FE model correlate well with experimental data. It is concluded that the method suggested works perfectly well for simple structures like GARTEUR test bed, and it gives quite promising results when applied to real aircraft structures. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.