A strain-free mobile fiber Bragg grating (FBG) ultrasonic receiver is applied for the impact-related experiments of carbon fiber reinforced plastic laminates. The strain-free FBG sensor detects an impact-induced acousto-ultrasonic wave and its responses are compared with those of a piezoelectric sensor. Ultrasonic mode wavelength-related averaging effect in FBG ultrasonic sensors is also reported. The mobile FBG sensor can be useful for the acoustic characterization and the sensor placement optimization being required before construction of a built-in FBG network. Finally, the mobility of the strain-free FBG sensor head is extended to ultrasonic scanning application. Based on its high scanning spatial resolution, impact damage sizing is conducted more precisely. (C) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.