"Declaring an emergency has a stigma attached to it that causes many people to wait too long before getting help. Why is this?" - Trent
“At safety seminars I conducted, I would regularly ask groups of 50-75 pilots how many of them had declared an in-flight emergency. Normally 5-8 hands went up. Then I would ask how many of them ever got in trouble for declaring that emergency. All the hands went down!
I’ve read all the bad press that you have about the stigma of declaring an emergency, but the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) – chapter 6 clearly authorizes the emergency declaration for any urgency or distress situation.
It’s a great tool to be used by pilots when needed. It gets you tremendous assistance from ATC and can expedite your return to the ground.
I’m aware of two specific accidents that occurred because pilots were reluctant to declare an emergency. Both crashed during go-arounds that would have been avoided had an emergency been declared.
Even if you were responsible for creating the situation that brought about the emergency (i.e. getting low on fuel) you’re a lot better off dealing with paperwork than you are trying to land your glider in someone’s back yard!”
Click here to view a pilot’s emergency authority from chapter 6 in the AIM.