Cypriot officials say a dig near a wartime memorial on Nicosia's outskirts may have located a Greek military transport aircraft that was brought down by friendly fire in the opening days of Turkey's invasion of the island 41 years ago.

Thursday's announcement is raising hopes that the remains of 19 soldiers still believed to be inside the Noratlas' incinerated fuselage could be recovered and returned to their families.

Only one of the 28 Greek commandos and four crew members survived the aircraft's fiery crash as it was coming in to land at Nicosia airport in the pre-dawn hours of July 22, 1974.

The aircraft was one of 12 sent to help defend against the invasion that was triggered when supporters of Cyprus' union with Greece mounted a short-lived coup.