Active structures concepts for the design of aircraft have been investigated for several years. Concerning static aeroelastic applications, all concepts known to the authors are trying to improve the design of aircraft wings. In the case of wings however, the design space for active structures concepts is limited by a multitude of functional requirements. Empennage surfaces on the other hand only have to meet two basic requirements: sufficient stability and maneuverability for the longitudinal and lateral motion of the aircraft. In the case of vertical tails, the aerodynamic effectiveness for the side force and for the rudder yawing moment are usually reduced by the flexibility of the structure. This causes a weight increase for the structure, which is especially unpleasant for tail surfaces because of the rearward shift of the center of gravity. Today, multidisciplinary structural optimization methods can be used to minimize the weight penalty for static aeroelastic effectiveness requirements. But an amount of penalty still remains. A smart solution for additional weight savings, if possible below the conventional basic strength design of the structure, would therefore be very welcome for any new aircraft design. The paper will describe a new design approach for vertical tails. The concept is based on a smart system for the attachment of the complete tail surface to the fuselage. If properly designed, the variable stiffness of this system will provide improved aerodynamic effectiveness of the tail at any flight condition compared to the rigid aircraft. In a first step, the structure for the vertical tail of a fighter aircraft is designed for static strength and buckling stability by means of a structural optimization program, which is based on finite element methods. The impacts of static aeroelastic effectiveness and flutter stability criteria on the structural design are shown. A modified structural model is then used to incorporate the active system for the attachment. The stiffness properties for this system are optimized for improved aerodynamic effectiveness while maintaining sufficient flutter stability and structural strength for the complete tail.