Cathode design is a difficult problem must be faced and solved in ECM. We develop a new numerical approach for cathode design by employing a finite element method and this approach has been applied in the cathode design of aero-engine blades in ECM. The mathematic models of the electric filed and electrolyte flow filed distribution in EMC process are described primarily. Then the realization procedure of this approach is presented，in which the effects of electric filed and electrolyte flow filed distribution within the inter-electrode gap domain are concentrated. In order to verify the machining accuracy of the designed cathodes, the experiments are conducted using an industrial scale electrochemical machining system. The experimental results demonstrate that the machined blade have high surface quality and dimensional accuracy which proves the proposed approach for cathode design of aero-engine blades in ECM is applicable and valuable.