Comments on my post Most Useless Radio Calls Ever led to a discussion of the precision of calls like "Position report for Xray Yankee Zulu, currently 128 miles north of Edmonton, level at ninty five, enroute to Yellowknife. Any conflicts Xray Yankee Zulu on twenty six seven."
The part of that one that irritates me most is the "any conflicts" part, sometimes extended to as much as "any conflicting traffic please advise." The reason you made the call in the first place is so that conflicting traffic can advise you of their position and intentions. Saying it explicitly is just a waste of time on the frequency. If you're actually conflicting with my flight path I am now waiting for you to shut up so I can tell you.
A possible origin for such addenda is from a document giving advice to crews operating IFR into uncontrolled airports in VMC. I don't have a link or the text handy, but the theory is that a call like "Sumspot Traffic, Air Moose five north procedure turn inbound one nine alpha circling for zero one," may be intimidating to the three light aircraft in the circuit at Sumspot. They might not understand the IFR terminology enough to realize it's a conflict, resulting in a turboprop breaking through the 2500' bases and getting a windshield full of Cessna. The advice was to add a simpler call and specifically ask for response from traffic in the area. It's easy to see how people would hear the cool IFR pilots saying it and decide it's a good idea for them, too.
I hear and understand the fact that "128 nm north of Edmonton" covers a lot of territory, considering that "north" probably includes an arc of twenty or thirty degrees. That's why in the Yellowknife area people report on radials. In southern Saskatchewan (i.e. anything south of Saskatoon) you're probably always within 20 miles of an airport that is on the chart, so people call with reference to the nearest airport. This doesn't solve the problem for me. When someone calls 128 miles north of Edmonton en route to Yellowknife, while I'm out of Edmonton for Winnipeg, I at least know the northbound traffic isn't a conflict for me. I know that the traffic out of Calgary for Saskatoon might be an issue if they are at my altitude. But I haven't a clue whether the guy who is "overhead Oyen climbing to 6500' for Slave Lake" is an issue for me. There are way too many tiny places on the map for me to find them. The GPS lists an alphanumerical soup of identifiers for teeny airports in my vicinity. I do try to keep track of what is near me as I progress across the prairie, but I don't select every identifier that comes up on the GPS to see what it is named. My only recourse is to look out the window and to call and say where I am, hoping that someone who makes such a specific call knows the relation of his tiny airport to mine.
I sometimes try to make the best of both worlds with position reports like "60 miles west of Moose Jaw over Gopherphart Field," giving general information that allows the people in Prince Albert to ignore me while also offering specific details so others in the Lake Diefenbaker area know if I'm a conflict. But I'm sure there are pilots who hate the time I waste on the frequency telling them where Gopherphart is. They think that anyone in the neighbourhood should know. I'm sure, working up the scale, there are plenty of aircraft who pass over my head (albeit at a non-interfering flight level) who are oblivious to the existence of Regina.
Also I've been away for a bit in real time, and have returned to over a hundred e-mails, so e-mail again later if you asked me something important and I didn't reply, I tend to let things get buried in the pile.