Redoine Faid, 46, escaped a Reau Prison within minutes when men armed with assault rifles and donning ski masks, landed a helicopter in the prison courtyard and freed him from a visiting room while he was seeing his brother.
Unarmed guards couldn't stop the men and the assailants managed to use a grinding machine to open the visiting room door and free Faid.
"Everything is being done to locate the fugitive," an interior ministry official told Reuters.
The men also reportedly used smoke canisters to obstruct the view of cameras during the escape.
A third man held the helicopter pilot hostage at gunpoint. The pilot was later released unharmed, according to reports.
Faid's accomplices had abducted the flying instructor at a small flying club in Fontenay-Trésigny, where he was waiting for a student, and ordered him to fly to the prison, BBC reported.
AThe helicopter was found burned in the town of Garges-les-Gonesse, in the northern suburbs of Paris, CBS News reported.
France's Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet called it a "spectacular escape."
“It was an extremely well-prepared commando unit that may have used drones to survey the area beforehand," Belloubet said.
This isn’t Faid’s first escape, however.
In 2013, in another remarkable jailbreak, he blasted his way out of another prison with explosives hidden in tissue packs. During that escape he used four guards as human shields as he blew up several doors.
He was on the run for six weeks.
Faid was serving time for the 2010 death of a young police officer killed during a botched robbery.