This C17 Air Force saw the Qatar Airways livery: here’s why

“Why does Qatar Airways have a Boeing C17 Globemaster in its fleet?” That is what many people ask when they see the plane. It has also been discussed several times in forums. Well, the 2020 Kuwait Aviation Show is happening right now and we had the opportunity to go directly to the source and confirm what people say on the Internet. This is what we discovered …

The Qatar C17 making an appearance at the Kuwait Aviation Show. Photo: Chris Loh / Simple Flying

It is not part of Qatar Airways

This C17 is not really operated by Qatar Airways. But the plane has the same owner as the Qatar fleet: the Qatar government. Confirmed in your financial information, Qatar Airways Group is fully property of The State of Qatar

So, if Qatar Airways does not operate this beast of an airplane, who does? The answer is the Qatar Emiri Air Force. In fact, the Qatari Emiri Air Force operates eight C17 according to But not all C17 Air Force looks like this.

The others have a more standard dark gray, as is common with most aircraft used for military operations. Delivered in 2009, the MAB aircraft registry was the second C17 of the Boeing Air Force.


The plane has the “MAB” record. Photo: Chris Loh / Simple Flying

Why the livery?

Finally, the answer you were waiting for.

First, there is the response we receive today at the Kuwait Aviation Show. A crew member told us that certain civil airports around the world (London was used as an example) restrict airplanes that are visible from the army. Therefore, with this aircraft taking the livery of a commercial airline, it is allowed to land while other military aircraft cannot afford.

A view of the cargo area from the rear window of the cabin. Photo: Chris Loh / Simple Flying

While this is a fairly authoritative source, we couldn’t find any information online to verify this. We also sent an email to London Heathrow Airport to see if they would be willing to confirm that such a policy existed. No response was received at the time of publishing this article.

The second response, found in the Boeing 2009 press release, is as follows:

“This exclusive C-17 paint scheme, the first of its kind, is intended to raise awareness about Qatar’s participation in worldwide operations” -Brig. General Ahmed Al-Malki, head of the air transport selection committee of Qatar.

And this makes sense when you read the rest of the press release and what these planes do. These C17 are intended to help with “humanitarian relief missions, disaster relief and peacekeeping”. In summary, the paint job is used to raise Qatar’s profile and project a positive image on the global stage wherever it flies. We would assume that this particular aircraft and its striking livery would not be used in combat operations unlike the rest of Qatar’s C17 fleet.

A special configuration in the middle of the cargo area for (one supposes) senior Air Force leaders to develop strategies. Photo: Chris Loh / Simple Flying
Another low angle shot inside the C17. Photo: Chris Loh / Simple Flying


Although this is not too involved with the world of commercial aviation, we think you might find it interesting since very few air force planes around the world take the livery of their national airline.

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