This experimental work considers the use of permanently attached sensors for the detection and location of impacts to a carbon fibre reinforced plastic panel with stringers. Deterministic knowledge of the propagation of Lamb waves in the structure is not used. Instead a statistical measure of the signal is used to determine the arrival time of elastic waves propagating in the structure as a result of the impact. A comparison is made between a conventional method and the statistical method. The conventional method, which has been routinely used in industry for acoustic emission imaging, uses the timing of a peak in the recorded signal. The statistical method uses the Rayleigh maximum likelihood estimator. The statistical method is shown to provide both more precise and robust estimates of the elastic wave arrival time. An array of just four sensors is used to locate the impacts. The accuracy of the localisations is used to visualise the effectiveness of the two methods for the low sensor density used. Low sensor density is necessary for minimising system weight and cost. The equivalent net sensor density used in this experiment was five sensors permeter squared. Carbon fibre reinforced plastic is today used for both exterior surfaces and primary structure of airframes entering service. The industrial relevance of this work is to mitigate the diminishing role of visual inspection for evaluating the health of aerospace structures, where impact damage may not be visible.