Two Views from a C-17’s Flight Deck

FARNBOROUGH, England — Boeing’s C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane is the workhorse of the U.S. Air Force’s airlift fleet, and according to the sales pitch, the only one of its kind: Both “strategic” and “tactical.”

A C-17 can take off from the United States, fly straight to its objective in Afghanistan, then land on a 3,000-foot “unimproved” runway, company officials say. That means, in many cases, it can take its cargo exactly where it’s needed, rather than forcing units in the field to break down a load and ship part of it the proverbial “last mile” aboard a helicopter or a smaller airlifter such as a C-27J Spartan — but that’s another story for another time.

Meanwhile, here are two views of a C-17 cockpit captured Wednesday at the air show. In the second image, below, you can just make out some of what the pilots see through their head’s-up displays — the same HUD, incidentally, that flies on the F/A-18 Hornet. Also in the second image: A guest appearance by the Air Force’s other, smaller cargo workhorse: Lockheed Martin’s C-130 Hercules.

  • Awolnation

    the perfect office

  • Lance

    Thats alot of computer screens.

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Afternoon Folks,

    More steam gages then I would have expected. With as much as the C-17 cost, one should expect at the very least an all glass cockpit like current commercial airliners have I guess that an add-on that Boeing will sell the USAirForce on an up coming upgrade.

    Byron Skinner

    • ghostwhowalksnz

      The first production model was delivered in 1993. That makes it 20 years ago.
      For large commercial aircraft there is not the space issues that you find in a combat aircraft. Plus they dont need attack and weapon modes.
      Dials have more maintenance , but just rip it all out to have the latest like an Xbox has cost issues for the airforce


      The steam gauges are backups to very reliable PFD’s and the HUDS .. Don’t loose any sleep over it.

    • Jeff

      All of the steam gauges are standbys in case of a complete electrical failure. (I was the pilot who flew it in for the airshow.)

    • DVind

      Byron, tinsta ALLONS, tinsta ALLONS!

  • blight_



    With a capital C,o, well, you know the rest.

  • blight_

    As others have posted about possible systems failures on glass cpits, have some links.……

  • octopusmagnificens

    It looks outdated compared to the A400M.

    • TheDingoAteMyBaby

      Except the A400M was grounded for the show. Devilish metal shards in those pesky engines.

    • Noel

      Well. the A400M appeared like a crossbreed of a C-17 Globemaster section and a C-130 Hercules just minus the engines. What matters more is cargo capacity and long range endurance to support strategic airlift which the C-17 is capable and designed for. Off course you say the C-17 is outdated…the A400M is now coming online. At least I can say that this aircraft is combat proven with a long track record for safety, design, and functionality. A400M is just a crossbreed with a few design mods to make it original.

    • nate

      If the C17 is outdated, why is it still in high demand? The RAF are getting the a400m, but if the C17 is outdated why are they still buying more?

    • m167a1

      Oh someone had troll for breakfast…
      To me the A400 looks like a mini C17 with props. Cute but not really in the same catagory as they are not really designed for the same mission.

      The A400 is midway in capacity between the C-17 and the C-130 and might better be compared to an AN70. The 17 is closer to a C-5 or 747F that has been given some tactical ability.

      The reason the UK and other buy the C-17 is it is in production now and the A400 is still having trouble.

      Its also better in the expeditionary category it carries more stuff farther and where the UK, Canada, Australia all have shortcomings is in the area, They need to get stuff to Afghanistan, Fiji, east Africa or whatnot, and get tired of renting Antonovs.

  • DGR

    The C-17: so cool it has reverse!

    • UAVgeek

      No Kidding, we had them parked nose to nose like cars at Walmart out in the sandbox. When it was time to leave, they’d do a three point turn out of the parking spot like a car.

  • jamesb

    Where’s the ex-Army’s C-27J?

    Anyways the darn C-17 looks a little like a bat man plane when you see it coming overhead…..

    I assume they are STILL rolling off the assembly line even thought the Air Force said they didn’t want anymore?

  • PolicyWonk

    Well in a way the C-17 is the only item of its kind: its the only currently American-made air-lifter in the market. And given the USAF’s obvious contempt for anything that isn’t fast and sexy, the entire air transport command should be returned to the army (along with the A-10’s the USAF detests).

    • blight_

      C-130 not on the market anymore?

  • Canis Latrans

    Engadget got a look at the F-35 Cockpit in the Lockheed Simulator:…

  • leesea

    this is Boeing PR at its height. The C-17 can only do transcontinental flights by refueling a couple of times along the route. It can only land NEAR a battle zone IF there is a big damn protected airstrip there. And no grunt wants to unpack huges boxes before he gets tot he beans and bullets needed to fight from his foxhole.

    Cargos will always go to a forward staging base and NEED to be flown further by a/c like C-130, C-27J OR by the newer K-MAX UCAVs.

    • m167a1

      Oh someone had troll for breakfast…
      Range depends on the load carried.
      Unloaded range is about 5600 miles with low density cargo like people and about 2400 fully loaded. Not up there with a 747-8 but trans-pacific with many loads and as you pointed out unlimited if they tank enroute.

      C-27 is a dead puppy we ought to quit kicking it

  • Jeff

    Sorry leesea, but you are completely misinformed on the capabilities of the C17. We are landing every day in the combat zone on austere dirt strips and airdropping supplies to troops behind the “lines”. We can fly transcon non stop anyday, anytime with a full load. The cargo load usually bulks out before it grosses out. We have no problems making it from the US to Europe with a pretty substantial load (over 100K) and on to the Middle East. Of course with air refueling we can make it non stop to the sandbox from the US and land on a blacked out dirt stip. A lot of misconceptions about the C17 are based on the first 70 planes built without extended range fuel tanks. Every plane since then is an ER and holds close to 250K of fuel. I have flown several times from Germany, westbound to the California with out refueling.

    • Guest

      “Of course with air refueling we can make it non stop to the sandbox from the US and land on a blacked out dirt strip.”

      Is this something that is actually done, or something that is in the realm of the possible only?