An inverse method is proposed in order to determine the viscoelastic properties of composite-material plates from the plane-wave transmitted acoustic field. Analytical formulations of both the plate transmission coefficient and its first and second derivatives are established, and included in a two-step inversion scheme. Two objective functions to be minimized are then designed by considering the well-known maximum-likelihood principle and by using an analytic signal formulation. Through these innovative objective functions, the robustness of the inversion process against high level of noise in waveforms is improved and the method can be applied to a very thin specimen. The suitability of the inversion process for viscoelastic property identification is demonstrated using simulated data for composite materials with different anisotropy and damping degrees. A study of the effect of the rheologic model choice on the elastic property identification emphasizes the relevance of using a phenomenological description considering viscosity. Experimental characterizations show then the good reliability of the proposed approach. Difficulties arise experimentally for particular anisotropic media.