As further details are awaited from the search operations for the missing Air Asia flight QZ8501, questions are being raised about the role of bad weather in the aircraft's disappearance.

The last contact from the flight was a request to shift altitude to avoid clouds.

Bad weather was in evidence in the region at the time, CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam said. "But keep in mind, turbulence doesn't necessarily bring down airplanes."

Bad weather is something most standard aircraft are able to handle, agree most aviation experts.

"Ordinarily, the pilots would get the updated weather from air traffic control and, of course, their onboard radar," said Mary Schiavo, CNN's aviation analyst and a former inspector general for the US Department of Transportation. "So whether there was (bad) weather in the area would not be a mystery."

Pilots have many tools to know of turbulent conditions ahead and are also aided by pre-flight weather reports, cockpit radar, among other reports.

Bad weather doesn't cause plane crashes, at least not for modern jetliners, says a Globe and Mail report. But it can catch pilots unaware or confuse as happened five years ago on the flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, it notes.

Very rarely pilots are unable to handle bad weather when cruising at high altitudes, the report says, noting that crashes in bad weather usually happen on landing or take-off.

The TransAsia airways flight that crashed in July this year on landing in a Taiwanese island is one case in point.

Pilots routinely divert craft to go around thunderstorms or thread through the gaps in a line of storms. Nose-mounted weather radars can alert pilots of storms ahead.

In the case of the Airbus A-330 crash five years ago, following the autopilot disconnecting on icing up, the pilots were confused if the plane was going up or down, as revealed by the flight recorders recovered from the crash that killed all 228 aboard.

Airbus A320 is an old warhorse from the Airbus stable and has been viewed as among top safe craft, with low number of crashes per million flights.

However, some criticism of Airbus is related to how it relies heavily on automation with its software precluding manual inputs from the crew entirely.

Over a 600 people have died in eight mishaps involving the A320 in two decades.