Answered By AOPA
What happens if I declare an emergency?
AOPA Staff Answer
An emergency is defined as a distress or an urgency condition. ATC will give you their full attention and offer any assistance needed to get you on the ground safely. FAR 91.3 (b) states that in an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency. Additionally, 91.123(d) reminds each pilot in command who is given priority by ATC in an emergency, that they shall submit a detailed report of that emergency within 48 hours to the manager of that ATC facility, if requested by ATC.
To expand on the AOPA reply....nothing happens UNLESS you receive a request from ATC/FAA. I have declared on more than one occasion and have yet to be asked for an explanation. The up side of declaring is that it removes any regulatory or procedural handcuffs from ATC to provide any help necessary; it also gets you off the regulatory hook if you violate visibility or cloud clearance requirements in order to meet the emergency situation...FAR 91.3 applies.