Convair CV580 VH-PDV, dynamic air-to-air view, newly refurbished and sporting the new specialised Pionair aircraft ‘fluid’ livery’.

Fluid Pionair livery

Pionair logo, rebrand

Working at Pionair my strength at creating powerful brands that flow across all print and web material as well as 3D objects was put to good use.

This pacific design has two bold calligraphic lines that elegantly flow from one side of the fuselage to the other. The dynamic two-tone blue on white ribbon device with cool grey wings are clean and modern while the polished metal nacelles are a stylish gesture towards its mid-century origins. Overall the curved design is a cool change from the cheatlines of most mid-century aircraft. The tension between the two fluid swoops draws the eyes away from the nose section and appears to lengthen the aircraft. With its notched profile, the nose gives away the fact the Convair is more than 50 years old.. To further de-emphasise the nose section it has been painted clean, featureless white.. The swoop design and fresh colour scheme appears modern and effortless, always turns heads and inspires confidence in passengers overcoming any reservations they may have about flying aboard older aircraft.


As part of the Pionair rebrand in 2006 I designed a new specialized livery and logo standard. This aircraft livery was a first in the history of the firm, a first for me, and a tremendous career highpoint. The brief was for the livery to be variable, the design needed to be able to accept either the Pionair logo in the prominent vertical stabilizer position, or the brands of air charter clients and other entities. The inaugural livery featured the compass rose icon from TAUCK, a US operator of all-inclusive guided tours and cruises that was Pionair’s most significant private air charter client on both sides of the Tasman at that time.

The new livery was the icing on the cake of a complete refurbishment of one of Pionair’s two ‘business class’ passenger Convair CV580, the aircraft ultimately to be registered in Australia as VH-PDV. After sending the specifications plan for the new livery to Fieldair’s ‘Pete the Painter’ Pionair received the response that if we wanted the new ‘swoops’ design on the aircraft that I would have to travel to Palmerston North and apply the design to the aircraft myself. Because, it turns out that while painting a cheatline, a decorative horizontal design composed of single or double band of colour was one thing, but, as one of the engineers remarked about the new livery design when he saw the plan on my first day in the Fieldair hangar;

That design is a compound curve on a compound curve mate! That is impossible to draw!

Methodology overview

The portfolio explains the method visually, in preparation for applying the swoops the fuselage had been painted white as specified, in short the task was to;

  • scale up the design onto the fuse and draw it precisely on the white paint with a sharp chinograph pencil,
  • once the four outlines of the swoops were drawn, Pete applied the mask. This begins with thin 5mm masking tape masked up to the drawn line. Once the 5mm mask outline was placed he used broader guage masking tapes to affix his standard masking materials to the design,
  • once masked up the painter was able to spray paint the fluid two-tone blue design.

PDV_Tauck_horiz_flight_1024The TAUCK compass rose was applied with cut solid 3M vinyl by a Palmerston North signwriting firm.


Project name: Convair CV580 aircraft livery
Client (Industry):
 Pionair Australia and Pionair New Zealand (Private Aviation, Travel & transportation)
Disciplines:  Digital illustration / Graphic design  / Signwriting
Formats: Aircraft livery
Date: 2006


Design firm: Pionair Propellor Studio (Solo in-house creative designer)
Design and Art Direction / Signwriting: Shaun Waugh
Painting: Fieldair Engineering
Font credits: Univers, Sloop script

Convair CV580 Cabin Safety Instructions Card, front cover, hand-held

Convair CV580 safety card

Pionair logo, rebrandPionair in both New Zealand and Australia was simultaneously an airline that specialised in private air charter and air cargo and a ‘best in class’ tour operator. At the start of 2007 Pionair owned 4 passenger Convair CV580 aircraft and two dedicated air cargo Convair. One passenger Convair operated in New Zealand out of Christchurch Harewood (operations having moved from Wigram in 2006) the other three, and the freighters operated in Australia from Sydney Bankstown airport and several others along the eastern seaboard, from Tasmania to Queensland.

Convair CV580 Cabin Safety Instructions Card, 2007

The Convair 580 aircraft safety card instructs passengers aboard the aircraft about the Convair’s specific procedures for dealing with various emergency conditions that may arise during the flight. The variability in the cabin fit-outs between Pionair’s four passenger Convairs meant Pionair’s card’s infographics were individually tailored to each aircraft.

Convair CV580 cruising, clearcut on a white background.This card was located in the seat back in front of the passenger. The first iteration of safety cards I produced for the Convair were A4 format in the manner of a prior version. However this format proved unsatisfactory in use—a tight fit in the seat pocket that often jammed and therefore quickly delaminated and shabby, resulting in an unsatisfactory and short service life.Convair_air-to-air_takeoff-clrx

Rollover fold 6-page format

The rollover fold 6-page format was the innovation I developed in 2007 to;

  • increase the durability of the cards
  • adhere to the requirement for increased quantity, detail and nuance required in the cards‘ infographics after New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) aligned its standards with the Australian Authority (CASA) in May 2006.
  • The card was designed and printed digitally, in-house by Pionair ‘Propellor’ Studio, and finished in a heavy-duty laminate capsule.

Human figure Infographics drawn from life

Convair CV580 Cabin Safety Instructions Card, vector infographic, arming the escape chute, opening the door.The Convair safety cards contents are entirely graphic representations which makes the cards accessible to those speaking another language than the flight attendants. The contents use a blend of clear, descriptive infographics drawn from life, set in the aircraft and a set of simple, Convair specific / generic pictograms.

Every second counts during an emergency, so in order to illustrate quickly to the highest standard I staged photographing colleagues on board the Convair as reference, then drew large, clear infographics from life—most in the context of the aircraft. In my opinion this representational format results in infographics that are much more easily understood by passengers. The standard generic pictograms often used now are, in my view, sub-optimal for demonstrating multi-step, skills-based tasks in a crisis. Well executed, large-sized infographics are the best format to present information to passengers in any critical scenario.

A brief note to the design, specifically using the perforated metal pattern as an aviation style decorative background, the inspiration for this decorative element springs from observation of the CV580 cockpit where perforated metal is used liberally, probably as a weight saving measure. Observation also informed the re-creation of the original engraved Convair eagle brand as a vector drawing for use in the custom CV580 safety cards, and prospectively for use on CV580 specific promotional merchandise.

Designed and printed in-house

The demand for short-run colour printing within Pionar increased rapidly between 2004–6, so the directors deemed it imperative to bring the printing and finishing of documents in-house. To that end Propellor Studio purchased a Fuji Xerox A3 colour laser in January 2006 which I maintained and operated.


Project name: Convair CV580 Safety on board / aircraft safety cards
Client (Industry):
 Pionair Australia and Pionair New Zealand (Private Aviation, Travel & transportation)
Disciplines:  Digital Illustration / Illustration / Photography / Print production
Formats: Aircraft safety card
Date: 2006


Design firm: Pionair Propellor Studio (Solo in-house creative designer)
Design and Art Direction: Shaun Waugh
Printer: Shaun Waugh
Print finishing: Croft Printing
Font credits: Univers, Sloop script