According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, the environmental impact of aviation occurs because aircraft engines emit heat, noise, particles, and gases that contribute to climate change and global dimming.
Airliners of the future are likely to be radically different. New shapes could include blended wing designs, where engines, fuselage, wings and flight surfaces blend into one organic entity, like some military aircraft today.
Materials science and new aerospace technologies involving power systems and the laws of aerodynamics will contribute to this kind of transformation. But at the core of future developments will be the essential energy and data provided by invisible networks of countless cables, hidden well out of sight from air travelers.