How often do you hear a position report that reports altitude as “low level”? Dave Crerar complained about this sloppy bit of radio phraseology last year and I have joined his ranks to eliminate this phrase. When I hear it on the radio, it reminds me that “low level” doesn’t give me nearly enough information to see and avoid this aircraft. I suspect that most of us fly at lower altitudes on local flights, so knowing the actual altitude of another aircraft in the vicinity is essential in a "see and be seen" environment. Knowing that another aircraft in the vicinity is “low level” just doesn’t cut it.
Just in the past month, I have heard a pilot in my vicinity report his altitude as “low level”. I was level at 1500 ASL. Was he above me or below me? Do I look for him above or below the horizon? In contrast, there was a helicopter slinging loads in the Walsh Lake area. He would regularly report that he was in the Walsh Lake area at 1500 ASL and below. I knew that if I maintained 2000 ASL, I would be out of his way even if I never established visual contact.
Let’s eradicate this from our radio phraseology. If you hear a pilot use “low level”, transmit “say your altitude”. Maybe they will get the message.