Moderators: jsumali2, richierich, ua900, PanAm_DC10, hOMSaR

 
CocoLoco
Topic Author
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 6:29 pm

Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:51 pm

Hi,

maybe my questions is stupid, but why are planes like the C-17 exclusively used by the military? Aren't these planes sold to civil companies even if they wanted them? Do they have conceptional disadvantages in comparison to a 777-F or 747-F, MD-11 etc?

To me it seems, that it would be the other way around. Originally developed as passenger aircraft, these aircraft must meet some compromise, to be used as a freighter.

I'm aware, that there are a few civil AN-127 around in case someone needs a no compromise freighter. But I'm still wondering why that kind of plane isn't more common, why it is worth having planes that were originally not made for the job they do.
 
User avatar
Revelation
Posts: 24286
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2005 9:37 pm

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:56 pm

They are expensive, they have a lot of features the commercial market doesn't need, they aren't designed for efficiency, and they are not designed for the same duty cycle as commercial aircraft.
Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
The heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own
 
User avatar
LAXintl
Posts: 24601
Joined: Wed May 24, 2000 12:12 pm

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:00 pm

Boeing dreamed of the idea, but the market was not interesting.

There were many negatives for the C-17 specifically, a major one because it cost a fortune and you'd never be able to keep it busy enough with odd-size cargo to recoup your investment.
Such aircraft make terrible general cargo aircraft due to their configurations. In addition the C-17 it too much airplane, a heavy beast so it's not exactly a fuelmiser.
Remember military aircraft are hardly optimized for things like operational cost and maintenance efficiency as commercial aircraft must.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
User avatar
ssteve
Posts: 1394
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 8:32 am

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:00 pm

Fuel efficiency is a lower design priority than ruggedness, short field performance, and roll-on-roll-off type features. Range is typically lower.

All that to say: the military planes are gas hogs. There are civil operators of types like the L-100... but those are for rare operators that want the features that militaries pay for at the expense of efficiency.

Finally, parcel carriers often need volume as much as lift capacity... I can't imagine how much gas FedEx would waste flying boxes around in a C17. They're sort of the opposite of the military spec.
 
User avatar
par13del
Posts: 10322
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 9:14 pm

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:05 pm

Dispatch rates are usually lower than their civilian counterparts.
 
User avatar
c933103
Posts: 4237
Joined: Wed May 18, 2016 7:23 pm

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:05 pm

I think MD tried to sell the aircraft to civil operator but there're no takers, and there are already An124 on the market
It's pointless to attempt winning internet debate.
Nyan! Nyan! Nyan! Nyan! Nyan! Nyan! Nyan! Nyan!
Meow Meow Meow! Meow Meow Meow Meow!
 
CocoLoco
Topic Author
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 6:29 pm

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:11 pm

But couldn't these aircraft be optimized in regard to civil use? Less heavy... not that rigid.

And regarding the costs: Isn't the prize that high, because they sell them only in a low quantity. Wouldn't the plane get a lot cheaper if they sold "many".

And I'm not really getting what you mean with volume vs. lift capacity. I don't know the specifications and haven't goggled them yet. Is it too much/to little?
 
32andBelow
Posts: 4931
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 2:54 am

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:13 pm

C130 is the only one that's found a limited commercial roll. 747f can take more payload,
Cheaper than c17
 
User avatar
Stitch
Posts: 27160
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2005 4:26 am

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:24 pm

c933103 wrote:
I think MD tried to sell the aircraft to civil operator but there're no takers, and there are already An124 on the market.

LAXintl wrote:
Boeing dreamed of the idea, but the market was not interesting.


McD did float a civilian version of the C=17 and when they were merged with Boeing, Boeing continued those discussions and teamed up with the USAF in 2001 to suggest a public/private acquisition strategy where a US-flagged cargo operator (the leading contender at the time was World Airways) would purchase 10 BC-17X airframes at $152 million a piece and operate them during peacetime, loaning them to the USAF as necessary via the Civil Reserve Air Fleet. The USAF would have provided $300 million towards the purchase price and also pay an annual fee to cover the CRAF-related costs.


CocoLoco wrote:
But couldn't these aircraft be optimized in regard to civil use? Less heavy... not that rigid.


The more they modify them away from the "production standard", the more expensive they become. The BC-17X would have shared about 90% commonality with the C-17 (specific military avionics and systems omissions likely being the difference).


CocoLoco wrote:
And regarding the costs: Isn't the prize that high, because they sell them only in a low quantity. Wouldn't the plane get a lot cheaper if they sold "many".


There is just not much need in civilian operations for an airframe that can deliver outsized cargo to/from a 6000 foot unimproved airfield. The primary sales pitch for these frames was to ship mining equipment or petroleum pipes / heavy machinery to remote areas. But that is primarily handled via shipping and roads because it's far cheaper.
 
User avatar
Aesma
Posts: 13113
Joined: Sat Nov 14, 2009 6:14 am

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:38 pm

CocoLoco wrote:
But couldn't these aircraft be optimized in regard to civil use? Less heavy... not that rigid.


So the opposite of what is done with F variants of civilian jets. Except that reinforcing the floor of such and cutting a big door in them is much simpler than "weakening" a C-17.
New Technology is the name we give to stuff that doesn't work yet. Douglas Adams
 
Bongodog1964
Posts: 3542
Joined: Wed Oct 18, 2006 6:29 am

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:51 pm

The C17 whilst having lots of great features for the military, ticks very few if any boxes for the civilian market, civilian operators aren't thinking of operating into 3500 foot runways with a low strength rating, where their plane needs to reverse itself without the assistance of a tug, and has to have a low fuselage to allow unloading without assistance. It's payload is 77 tonnes, which is a little more than an A332F, but requires 4 engines rather than 2 , it can take cargo up to 88 feet x 18 x 12 but that's not large compared to an AN124 or even an Airbus Beluga.
 
User avatar
lightsaber
Moderator
Posts: 19976
Joined: Wed Jan 19, 2005 10:55 pm

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:08 pm

Aesma wrote:
CocoLoco wrote:
But couldn't these aircraft be optimized in regard to civil use? Less heavy... not that rigid.


So the opposite of what is done with F variants of civilian jets. Except that reinforcing the floor of such and cutting a big door in them is much simpler than "weakening" a C-17.

To weaken a C-17 requires:
New landing gear
New landing gear bays
A significant amount of engineering to think out sheet metal to reduce battle damage ruggedness while maintaining fatigue life.
Redoing the cargo floor.
And new less draggy flaps as there is less need for short field performance.


The cargo market doesn't want to pay for that! It is significantly cheaper to ruggedize something than undo it.

Not to mention the poor engine choice for maintenance and fuel burn vs. a twin.

With payload, the C-17 relies on the KC tankers to achieve range..

I'm impressed with the C-17. But what civilian operator will pay to operate a fast response cabin depressurization system?
Flu+Covid19 is bad. Consider a flu vaccine, if not for yourself, to protect someone you care about.
 
KICT
Posts: 815
Joined: Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:54 pm

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:46 pm

I did see renderings of the C-17 in FedEx livery. Sharp!
People are saying. Believe me.
 
User avatar
yowza
Posts: 4508
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2005 7:01 am

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:00 pm

Beyond the reasons already stated I would imagine that because the the C-17 is deemed military hardware there are restrictions on who can buy it, who can buy spares, and who can be trained to fly it. That is likely a huge turn off. Closest thing we are going to see to this ever happening is this:



This C-17 is owned by the Qatar Emiri Air Force but operated by Qatar Amiri Flight and for some reason wears a QR livery. :)

YOWza
 
Newbiepilot
Posts: 3641
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 10:18 pm

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:01 pm

CocoLoco wrote:
But couldn't these aircraft be optimized in regard to civil use? Less heavy... not that rigid.

And regarding the costs: Isn't the prize that high, because they sell them only in a low quantity. Wouldn't the plane get a lot cheaper if they sold "many".

And I'm not really getting what you mean with volume vs. lift capacity. I don't know the specifications and haven't goggled them yet. Is it too much/to little?


Have you ever seen the C-17 landing gear. That is the heaviest and most complicated landing gear retraction system that I have ever seen in my life. There is no way that design is going to survive 20,000 cycles in commercial operation. So much engineering work was done to keep the gear outside the pressure vessel and prevent it from impinging the cargo deck that it is extremely heavy. It's just one example of design compromises made for the C-17 to support military operations that commercial airlines don't need. Loading from ground level is not important for a commercial operator and they aren't going to carry thousands of extra pounds for a function that serves no purpose for them. The wing and flaps are also huge to allow for soft field and short field performance. Range is also very short at under 3000 miles near max payload. The plane can't fly transatlantic with a decent payload without refueling. Those are features commercial airlines don't want.

A high volume C-17 production line would have cost less, but it still it burns as much fuel as a 777, but can't fly as much payload and has no where near the range.
 
GalaxyFlyer
Posts: 5994
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:21 pm

If you think the C-17 gear was heavy and complex, take a look at the C-5's.

GF
 
TW870
Posts: 1222
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:01 am

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:48 pm

The freight market is also very well suited to cheap, secondhand converted passenger airplanes. Most freight carriers fly far fewer segments and block hours per day than pax operators, which means fuel and maintenance cost control is less crucial. Why pay for a new military aircraft when there are plenty of used 747 and 767s floating around? Even the new generation Herc is doing horrible on the civilian market - because it is expensive, inefficient, and only geared to niche, high performance operations. The last time commercial operators used a lot of former military aircraft for freight was in the piston era, with the C-97, C-118, and C-121 fleets seeing new lives flying ad hoc cargo. But of course all of those were already civilian adapted for pax service (The DC-6, L1049, and Stratocruiser).
 
32andBelow
Posts: 4931
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 2:54 am

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:10 pm

Newbiepilot wrote:
CocoLoco wrote:
But couldn't these aircraft be optimized in regard to civil use? Less heavy... not that rigid.

And regarding the costs: Isn't the prize that high, because they sell them only in a low quantity. Wouldn't the plane get a lot cheaper if they sold "many".

And I'm not really getting what you mean with volume vs. lift capacity. I don't know the specifications and haven't goggled them yet. Is it too much/to little?


Have you ever seen the C-17 landing gear. That is the heaviest and most complicated landing gear retraction system that I have ever seen in my life. There is no way that design is going to survive 20,000 cycles in commercial operation. So much engineering work was done to keep the gear outside the pressure vessel and prevent it from impinging the cargo deck that it is extremely heavy. It's just one example of design compromises made for the C-17 to support military operations that commercial airlines don't need. Loading from ground level is not important for a commercial operator and they aren't going to carry thousands of extra pounds for a function that serves no purpose for them. The wing and flaps are also huge to allow for soft field and short field performance. Range is also very short at under 3000 miles near max payload. The plane can't fly transatlantic with a decent payload without refueling. Those are features commercial airlines don't want.

A high volume C-17 production line would have cost less, but it still it burns as much fuel as a 777, but can't fly as much payload and has no where near the range.

So Boeing can sell the package companies 767 tankers also!
 
User avatar
smithbs
Posts: 481
Joined: Wed May 17, 2017 6:09 pm

Re: Why doesn't civil air cargo use planes like the Boeing C-17?

Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:03 pm

It's tough to find examples of military cargo lifters that found civil operators. I can't find any for G.222 or C-295. There were some (not many) for C-235. L-100 (civil C-130) has had a bit more success, but again it's fairly limited. Then you get into the range of Skyvan and Skytruck, which are more successful - relatively speaking.

I got to see the Qatari C-17 in person once. Very nice.

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos