I've heard that rumor before around the C-17 training center in Oklahoma. Even saw a picture (actually an "artists rendering" I guess) of a C-17 painted in Fed Ex livery. Looked pretty cool but I haven't heard anything in the AF grapevine that it's gonna happen. When the original AF purchase was only going to be 120 airplanes I think the Pentagon was pushing hard to get other buyers so they could keep the assembly lines open in case the AF decided to by more. Now that the AF is gonna buy another big batch and with other countries also looking to improve their airlift capabilities, I don't know if they're still pushing hard to get the civilian freight carriers to buy some.
It would be pretty cool to see some C-17's painted white and purple though.
The C-17 is one cool aircraft it can land loaded up good in 2500 feet backup, and takeoff again in that distance. I had the pleasure of sitting in jumpseats during a approach and landing into Charleston, it is one great aircraft. Although I don't know of money/operating aspects.
I can't access the link provided so I haven't read anything beyond what is in this thread, but it doesn't make sense to me that Fed-Ex would be interested in the C-17. The C-17 is a quite an airplane, for what it does, but the thing is, it's been optomized for carrying large, outsized loads into short, unimproved airstrips. Everything in aviation is a compromise, so the C-17's capabilities have necessarily come at the expense of other things, like efficiency, speed, payload, etc. Fed-ex doesn't have a need to carry outsized loads into small airstrips, and it would seem to me that carrying lots of small packages in cargo containers from large airport to large airport could be done a lot nore economically by the aircraft that Fed-Ex is currently using. Maybe I'm missing something.
Although you may or may not know this, but Fed Ex has a pretty big charter operation. I used to be a ramp agent at Fed Ex and did several charters including race cars to Japan, hippos to MCO, satellites to China and Russia. The C-17 has a huge fuselage and is probably the only aircraft that could carry some on the new satellites being assembled besides the guppy and Antenov.
But like A Squared said, the aircraft was developed to carry large loads, short distances on unimproved airstrips and I don't see Fed Ex purchasing this aircraft. Wet leasing them for specific chaters may happen, but you aren't going to see these things flying in and out of the Memphis hub anytime soon.
I think they might get one or two for charter operations that might need it, but I doubt that you will ever see it in Mainline service, how many times do you need to carry such a large cargo in and out of small unprepared strips.
But it would be highly doubtful that Fed Ex would take it, other than for the reason that they could say that they can do it. It similair to the Trubine Powered Hang glider tow plane over at Quest air. The engine sucks more fuel, is ten pounds heavier and puts out ten les HP than the normal engine, on top of that it is expiermental, but they did it because that way they could say that they can do it.