The investigation into the crash that claimed the life of Emiliano Sala is likely to take a year to conclude and cannot be used by Cardiff City as a reason to delay paying Nantes for the player, Sportsmail
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) indicated that the average time taken to complete such an inquiry is 12 months.
The inquiry will include interviews with the Piper Malibu's owner, whose identity must be made known to the AAIB.
Although Cardiff have indicated that they do not intend to make any moves until the conclusion of official investigations into the crash, in which pilot David Ibbotson also died, legal experts say the club have no grounds on which to delay the first tranche of the agreed £15million fee.
James Earl, a partner at legal firm Fladgate LLP, said that the contract agreeing the 28-year-old's transfer would have involved Cardiff making a cast-iron commitment to paying Nantes the money and that the crash will not have changed that.
Any culpability on the part of Nantes could theoretically see Cardiff attempt to negotiate down Sala's price, the lawyer said — yet there appears to be no such fault.
Cardiff are not likely to able to make a claim against the owners of the plane or the McKay family —who were hired by Nantes to find a buyer for Sala — because the club had no involvement at all in the transaction which saw Ibbotson and the Piper Malibu used for Sala's trip back to Nantes.
'I'm struggling to see how the club could make the case,' said Mr Earl. 'If they had entered into an agreement with the company who own or lease the plane, then yes they could. But they did not do so and would struggle to prove that a duty of care was owed to them.'
A 65-year-old pilot, Eduardo Hernandez Vidaurreta, from Burgos in northern Spain, has told Spain's El Pais newspaper that he owned the aircraft between 2012 and 2015 when he sold it to a buyer represented by British-based Southern Aircraft Consultancy, who register planes for owners wanting to remain anonymous.
When selling it, Vidaurreta met David Henderson, the British pilot who took over captaining the aircraft but did not fly it on the night it crashed.
'It didn't give me any problems,' said Vidauretta. 'If someone is looking for a mechanical reason to explain the airplane's crash, I think they are wrong.'