View Full Version : Volmet

25th Feb 2003, 13:19
We all know what VOLMET is but a trainee asked an interesting question yesterday.

What does VOLMET actually stand for?

It appears not to be the first letters of a series of words as every definition we can find do not include the letters v,o etc.

Our best guess, courtesy of Ballygirreen Radio Station, is that it comes from the French word "Vol" meaning to fly, and obviously "met".

Anyone got any better suggestions, or the real answer?

Self Loading Freight
25th Feb 2003, 21:43
Ever since the young SLF listened to his first shortwave radio under the blankets, I've wondered this. I've never been able to find out. The two explanations I've uncovered in the past are first, the French one -- obviously from Voler, to fly, and Meteorological -- and second Volume Meteorlogical, ie a discrete dump of multiple data in one go. I've seen both mentioned in dictionaries.

Someone also suggested in the office today that it was a VOice List of METeorological information, but that was a guess.

So, I've emailed those nice people at the Oxford Word and Language Service (OWLS), part of the OED, with a request for some chapter and verse. If they don't know -- we're stumped.


25th Feb 2003, 21:52
I think you are right in saying "VOl" is derived from French - fly...:hmm:

Self Loading Freight
13th Mar 2003, 10:09
Well, the OED is stumped! Here's the reply I got to my email...


*From:* ASK OXFORD <[email protected]>

Thank you for your enquiry to Ask Oxford.

Like you, I am having great difficulty finding any
reliable information about the derivation of the
term VOLMET.

I have found a paper on the Internet written by
Cook and Benest at the University of York
which mentions and describes the service, and
refers to a paper which is cited as

'Lamel, L.F., Gauvain, J.L., Prouts, B., Boutier, C.
& Boesch, R. (1993) "Generation and Synthesis
of Broadcast Messages", Proceedings ESCA-NATO
Workshop: Applications of'.

I do not know whether there might be any information
there that might help.

There is an article in the Irish Times of 31 August 1993
which espouses the derivation from French vol, but it
does not say on what authority this is based.

According to an article in the Times of 7 Dec. 1982,
VOLMET was then quite a new system, being still read
out by an operator, but was expected soon to be
automated. An advertisement placed by Marconi
Defence and Space Systems in the Times of 1 Sept 1980
announces the introduction of the VOLMET system at
Heathrow. The system was to be on show at the Marconi
stand at Farnborough. Perhaps someone at Marconi
would be able to settle the question.

I have not found the term in many online dictionaries, nor
have I found it explained in any of the sources I have
checked where the term is used. Of the two explanations
I have found, one (from a site called 'Acronym Finder')
gives the 'definition' 'Volume Meteorological', and the other
(at 'aussieaviation') calls it a 'French word meaning
"Flying Weather"'.

I am sorry to be unable to help further. If you should find
any more definite information, we would be most grateful
if you could pass it on to us, as it is possible we may
decide to draft an entry for the term at some future date.

Juliet E. A. Field (Mrs)
Senior Assistant Editor
Oxford English Dictionary


So, there we go. Pprune's chance to make it into the dictionary!


13th Mar 2003, 23:31
It originates from an old Chinese Proverb:

Velly Often Long MET :p :D

On a more practical note, I was once told that it really stood for VHF On Line MET, (and this was before the new computer age, when "on - line" meant ready and accessible).
I never did find out if it was correct though.

14th Mar 2003, 06:25
Except it isn't always VHF. Could be HF so suspect that was someone's guess.

Iron City
14th Mar 2003, 15:51
What a very good question.

Can not find a definition/etimology for the acronym VOLMET anywhere. Can not find it defined BUT:

ICAO Convention on International Civil Aviation, ANNEX 3 (Meteorology) Chapter 11 sections 11.4, 11.5, and 11.6 describe what is in a VOLMET and D VOLMET. Unfortunately, I am not a subscriber to this esoteric stuff, so only have the table of contents available online.

The World Meteorological Organization web site (www. wmo.ch) defined a "D-VOLMET" as "Data Link Meteorological Information for Aircraft in Flight (VOLMET).

I would conclude, then, that:

a. a working definition of VOLMET is "Meteorological Information for Aircraft in Flight"
b. maybe it is only an acronym in a language other than English, likely French
c. it was likely snuck in somewhere by someone who spoke (egad!!) French. (duh)
d. france might be the place to look for the person that would do such a thing. (double duh, though don't overlook the Swiss or Belgium in the search)

17th Mar 2003, 15:45
I found this after a quick trawl, havn't a clue what it means but it looks about right

"En dehors des transmissions d'images météorologiques, il existe des transmissions "vocales" d'informations météorologiques dédiées aux aéronefs.
Appelées VOLMET (VOL METéorologique) et ATIS (Automatic Terminal Information Service), ces informations sont transmises par les aéroports ou aérodromes en VHF et par quelques stations en bande HF."


18th Mar 2003, 08:35
Thanks sky9, and all other contributors. Looks like sky9 has confirmed that volmet does indeed come from the French.

The literal translation of the french text he/she posted, according to an online translator, so excuse the grammar, is:

Apart from the weather transmissions of images, there are "vocal" transmissions of weather information dedicated to the aircraft. Called VOLMET (FLIGHT METéorologique) and ATIS (Final Automatic Information Service), this information are transmitted by the airports or aerodromes in VHF and by some stations in band HF."


Thanks again

18th Mar 2003, 16:18
One final confirmation that the French are involved :-)

This from ICAO in Montreal:

.................... VOLMET is a defined abbreviation "Meteorological information for aircraft in flight" and the origin is from the French "vol" (flight) and "MET" as an abbreviation for meteorology. VOLMET is a broadcast, or data link service, of meteorological information for aircraft in flight and is provided for in Annex 3 but subject to Regional Air Navigation Agreements. In the Americas there is no current requirement for VOLMET broadcasts identified in the Regional Navigation Plans, hence no such service is provided internationally.