Yes, it could—but ensuring that stray tools are detected 100 percent of the time would require testing. It might be possible to tag tools with passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) metal-mount tags, and to then perform a sweep of the area in which work is being conducted. That would be the simplest solution.
It’s unlikely that you would want to install permanent passive readers within an airplane to provide 100 percent coverage 100 percent of the time. Retrofitting planes would be expensive, and it might be challenging to read every tag on every tool, every single time.
Active RFID systems broadcast a signal, so it would be easier to ensure that an active tag was read every time, but active tags tend to be larger (since they require a battery) and could interfere with the operation of some tools. Currently, active RFID systems are not approved for use on planes in flight, so you would need to utilize a handheld reader to determine if any tools were left behind.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
How Can I Track Insects Via RFID? »